The Last 1000: Site Tracks Retirement of Research Chimps

The Last 1000 is a website dedicated to documenting the lives of the last chimpanzees left in research facilities in the U.S. and is authored by Dr. Lori Gruen, who is head of Wesleyan University’s Animal Studies Program.

“For almost 100 years, chimpanzees have been used in biomedical and behavioral research in this country, the last industrialized country to experiment on our next of kin. The end of using chimpanzees as nameless test subjects is near. Already hundreds of research chimpanzees have been retired. In tribute to all who have been forced to serve, here we look forward to the journey to sanctuary of the LAST 1000,” writes Gruen.

It is hard to tell whether to look at it as a wall of shame, considering what has been done to these amazing animals, or a wall of hope as the U.S. continues to take steps moving away from using chimpanzees in biomedical research and those who remain have their names marked off as they slowly make their way to sanctuaries where they can live out their days free from suffering, some enjoying the simple pleasure of feeling grass for the very first time.

Some are unknown due to a lack of transparency at some facilities, others are identified only by letters and numbers, while the rest have been listed by name.

“One of the ways to acknowledge the debt we owe these chimpanzees is to recognize them as individuals, not as nameless tools or a mass of “research chimpanzees,” writes Gruen.

Flo is one of the oldest chimpanzees in captivity. She was captured in the wild and has lived in a zoo in Tennessee, at the Coulston Foundation in New Mexico, then ended up at the Alamogordo Primate Facility in 2001 where she has been since. She had four children.

Ken was born in New Mexico and was shipped to three different facilities before being sent to Southwest National Primate Research Center  in 2010. He is infected with hepatitis A and C and HIV.

Candy was born on February 20, 1989. For many years she worked in cognition research at the New Iberia Research Center but then was put into the biomedical research population. In January 2013, she arrived at her sanctuary home at Chimp Haven.

Some of the ones listed are descendants of those who were named on Gruen’s other site: The First 100, which lists the names of the chimps who were part of the first research colony that was established in 1930.

In 2000, Congress passed the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance and Protection (CHIMP) Act, which mandated the establishment of a sanctuary system to provide lifetime care for chimpanzees who are retired from the biomedical research industry.

In 2011, the Institute of Medicine concluded that most research on chimps was unethical and unnecessary in biomedical and behavioral research, which was followed by the establishment of a group of experts to further debate the issue. They recommended retiring all but 50 chimpanzees.

At nearly the same time the last recommendation was made, the first 16 chimpanzees of 111 from the New Iberia Research Center arrived at Chimp Haven, a national sanctuary. 95 more will arrive in the coming months, bringing the total number of chimpanzees at Chimp Haven to 231. In December, the NIH announced it would move them all to a sanctuary, instead of sending 100 of them to the Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio after public outcry.

Last week fifty-two-year-olds Julius and Sandy, 46-year-old Phyllis and 44-year-old Jessica arrived at Chimp Haven and began exploring their new surroundings. Their new lives will involve being able to go outside whenever they want and make decisions about what they feel like doing.

“They light up, look up at the sky, look at us watching them,” said behaviorist Amy Fultz.

Concerns have been raised about funding for Chimp Haven because the cap on $30 million that was allocated for it will be hit this year. However, animal advocates are arguing that additional spending won’t be needed if Congress lets the NIH spend the money it used on research contracts on chimps’ retirement instead.

Hopefully, soon all the names on the Last 1000 will be highlighted green.


Related Stories:

Experts Tell NIH to Retire Most Research Chimps, but Not All

Feds “Retire” 110 Chimps…By Sending 100 of Them to Another Research Center

Sick and Dying Chimps Still Used in Research


Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jeannet Bertelink

A lab is NO place for animals

Waltraud U.
Waltraud U5 years ago

People need to vote unacting dumb authorities and officials acting irresponsibly to futuregenerations out of occupations NOW AND FOR ALL!

valda p.
valda p5 years ago

Those cruel abusers in the laboratories and the governments that employed them are responsible and should rehome them with - the money they made from using and abusing them for many years-we humans should take responsibility for our own health issues and not use any animals in sadistically cruel experiments to improve our lives and ruin theirs.

Angela L.
Angela L5 years ago

Debbie, I read the book "NIm Chimpsky" but too bad I missed the documentary. The book was sad enough for me that I feel guilty because of our human selfishness. Since then I avoid any medicine even more. I believe that if everyone of us tries to eat a plant-based diet and exercise, we can avoid a lot of illenesses or try to stay on a herbal or natural healing like animals. We all live to only a certain age and will eventually have an end of life, why take another life to replace ours? Does that sound selfish or what???!!

"Isn't man an amazing animal? He kills wildlife - birds, kangaroos, deer, all kinds of cats, coyotes, beavers, groundhogs, mice, foxes, and dingoes - by the millions in order to protect his domestic animals and their feed. Then he kills domestic animals by the billions and eats them. This in turn kills man by the millions, because eating all those animals leads to degenerative - and fatal - health conditions like heart disease, kidney disease, and cancer. So then man tortures and kills millions more animals to look for cures for these diseases. Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals. Meanwhile, some people are dying of sad laughter at the absurdity of man, who kills so easily and so violently, and once a year sends out a card praying for 'Peace on Earth.'"
C. David Coats

Carrie-Anne Brown

great video thanks for sharing :)

LMj Sunshine
James Merit5 years ago

Bless them and allow them to enjoy whatever time they have left in peace!

LMj Sunshine
James Merit5 years ago

Bless them and allow them to enjoy whatever time they have left in peace!

Robyn Bashaw
Robyn Bashaw5 years ago

Petition signed. No more chimp research.

Pat L.
Patricia L5 years ago

Many chimps who haven't been used for research in many years are still sitting in small cages unaware that there is a sun and an outside environment, simply because there is nowhere for them to go. Please help to give these animals the retirement they deserve, not a slow death because they aren't useful anymore.

Duane B.
.5 years ago

They must all be released from their research duties.