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December 18, 2012

NIH to Release 100+ Chimps from Research Lab to Sanctuary

It’s a big day for chimpanzees, as the National Institutes of Health announces a commitment to move more than 100 government-owned chimpanzees from the New Iberia Research Center (the lab that HSUS investigated and exposed in 2009) to Chimp Haven, the federal chimpanzee sanctuary. These animals are classified as “permanently ineligible” for research and will live out the remainder of their lives in safety there. We’ve had a good, productive discussion with NIH about this move, and we are grateful to NIH Director Francis Collins for agreeing to make this move and also to Chimp Haven for agreeing to take in these chimpanzees. The transfer will nearly double the population of animals living there.

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The HSUS
A chimpanzee at New Iberia Research Center.

While there is space at Chimp Haven for approximately half of this group, an estimated $2.3 million in construction funding is needed to accommodate the rest of the animals, in addition to operating costs. The HSUS has contributed $500,000 to this effort, thanks to a generous donation from supporter and philanthropist Audrey Steele Burnand.

When we investigated the treatment of chimps at New Iberia, we found callous treatment of some of the adult animals. We also found that the facility was breeding chimpanzees in violation of NIH’s own breeding moratorium.

Earlier this year, a laboratory in Maryland using chimps ended its research program. A big factor was our campaign and also the landmark report from the Institute of Medicine revealing that the use of chimpanzees in experiments is “largely unnecessary.” The report, released last December, also made clear that there are alternative methods for the areas where chimps have been useful.

We hope that this group is just the start of more chimpanzees getting retired to sanctuary. Where there are alternatives, we must stop the use of animals in tests and experiments. That’s what we are striving to do with our other signature achievements in 2012 in the realm of animal testing and research:


  • In the product testing arena, Humane Society International was instrumental in preserving Europe’s 2013 ban on selling animal-tested cosmetics. Our hard-hitting campaign gathered more than 400,000 petition signatures from caring consumers and big names like Paul McCartney and Leona Lewis.
  • HSI and The HSUS launched an unprecedented global campaign, Be Cruelty-Free, to end cosmetics testing on animals worldwide, with partners and program work in Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Russia, the United States and beyond.
  •  We helped to persuade cruelty-free cosmetics company Urban Decay to stop selling its products in China, a country that requires animal testing of cosmetics.
  • HSI achieved the largest-ever reduction in animal test requirements through its work to revise Europe’s pesticide regulations. This will spare thousands of dogs and other animals from inhumane chemical-poisoning tests, and earned HSI the inaugural Lush Prize for lobbying.
  • In the United States, The HSUS received assurance from the Environmental Protection Agency that it would reduce its animal testing requirements for pesticides.
  • We successfully persuaded both the U.S. House and Senate appropriations committees to request that federal agencies increase their financial support and their commitment to the development of non-animal approaches to chemical assessment as well as alternatives to chimpanzees for hepatitis C vaccine development.
  • We helped secure an end to the use of “Class B cats” (cats collected from random sources by dealers and sold to research labs) in government-funded research and one of the few remaining Class B dealers, Chestnut Grove Kennel, went out of business.
  • HSI helped convince Air Canada to revise its cargo policy to allow refusal of shipments of non-human primates destined for laboratory experiments.
  • At our urging, Minnesota passed legislation ending the practice of “pound seizure,” the turning over of dogs and cats by animal shelters to laboratories for experimentation.
  • After outcry from a large number of animal protection groups, including The HSUS, Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court ruled that Bioculture — a planned monkey-breeding facility — could not go forward, saving 4,000 wild monkeys from capture and shipment. 

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