Alamogordo Chimpanzee Move Postponed
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has confirmed that an aging colony of former research chimpanzees will not be returned to biomedical research for the time being. The 186 chimpanzees, which have lived free from invasive research for the past ten years while housed at a facility in Alamogordo, New Mexico, were to be moved this year to an active biomedical research laboratory in San Antonio, Texas.
According to NIH, the chimpanzees will remain at the Alamogordo facility pending “an in-depth analysis to reassess the scientific need for the continued use of chimpanzees to accelerate biomedical discoveries.” The study will be conducted by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), and is expected to put the transfer on hold for approximately two years.
Dr. Jane Goodall, actor Gene Hackman, and others have strongly opposed the move. Retired New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), along with Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Tom Harkin (D-IA), were instrumental in obtaining the in-depth analysis by the NAS.
In response to the recent news, JGI President Maureen Smith stated, “We applaud the NIH for this decision. It is our hope that this announcement and subsequent study will lead to a broader conversation about the use of chimpanzees in invasive medical research.”