First introduced in 2008, as H.R. 1326 in the House of Representatives and S. 3694 in the Senate, the Great Ape Protection Act has been reintroduced with bipartisan support in both the House of Representatives and the Senate as the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act, now H.R. 1513 and S. 810.
Despite what we know about the intelligence, sensitivity, complex emotional lives and social needs of primates, scientists continue to use them in research. The U.S. is now one of only two countries in the world to use chimpanzees in invasive experiments.
The Act would phase out testing for about 1,000 chimpanzees currently in U.S. labs, along with retiring 500 federally owned chimpanzees to sanctuaries, which will save taxpayers approximately $30 million annually, while marking a milestone for animals by making this the first time a species has been exempted from testing in this country.
Additionally, it would end transport and breeding programs for all great apes intended for research, including chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, orangutans and gibbons, along with banning federally funded chimpanzee breeding programs.
Whether they’re captured from the wild, or bred in captivity, primates suffer from the effects of confinement without their psychological and behavioral needs being met, nevermind the research part, which can include prolonged immobilization, sensory deprivation, social isolation and invasive surgery, among other horrors.
Unsurprisingly, studies have found that primates who have been the subjects in biomedical research experiments often exhibit signs of stress and abnormal behavior, including Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with symptoms similar to those listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) used for humans.
“As a scientist with a doctorate in human physiology, I worked directly with primates on research projects for NASA and our military to protect and preserve the lives of astronauts and our military personnel. Because of this experience, I closely followed and am gratified that with spectacular advances in scientific and medical research, invasive and destructive procedures on great apes are both less effective and more costly than alternatives. With this bill, the federal government will catch up with the science and spend taxpayers’ money more wisely by eliminating invasive research and cruel captivity of these incredible animals,” said Rep. Roscoe Bartlett.
Its long pastime to end the suffering of our fellow primates and move on to methods that are both scientifically and ethically justifiable.
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