Jane Asks Congressional Leadership to Fix CHIMP Act

In June 2013, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced its intention to retire all but 50 of the hundreds of research chimpanzees in its care.  The process of moving the chimpanzees has already begun, but an out-of-date provision in the law is threatening to send them back to the labs.  Yesterday, Dr. Goodall wrote to the leadership of the U.S. Congress asking them to fix the problem.

October 15, 2013

The Honorable Harry Reid
Majority Leader
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Minority Leader
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable John Boehner
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Majority Leader Reid, Minority Leader McConnell, Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Pelosi,

As Congress moves to reopen the government after the shutdown so that Americans do not have to suffer while longer-term solutions are put into place, I must share my concern about an issue that was already resolved but will be undone without further action by Congress.

Over the last couple of years, the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a host of scientists and organizations, as well as a large number of Americans, all agreed that it is no longer necessary or appropriate to use chimpanzees in invasive medical testing. Whether the reason is because chimpanzees don't provide a good model for scientific research or because this amazing species experiences many of the same emotions as humans – such as, fear, distress and depression --, this paradigm shift had already taken place and the process of moving the majority of federally-owned chimpanzees into the national sanctuary system had already begun when the government shut down.

Presumably, upon the government's re-opening, the transfer process will begin again. But, without a simple and permanent change in the law that only Congress can make, the chimpanzees may face a return to research laboratories. Make no mistake, this would not happen because the paradigm shift somehow unwound. Rather, it would be because the legislation governing the national sanctuary for chimpanzees, which was enacted in 2000, contains a cap – and the cap will be reached sometime between November 15 and November 30 of this year.

Ironically, as with many ramifications of the budget impasse, failing to remove this cap would cost taxpayers more because it is less costly to care for chimpanzees in sanctuary than in labs. NIH does not need more money to retire its chimpanzees. It simply needs authorization to use funds it would already spend to care for the chimpanzees in the labs to retire them instead. In fact, with this change, NIH would actually spend less on research and the retired chimpanzees with each passing year.

We cannot turn back the clock on the many years that chimpanzees have already given in U.S. research labs. I can only hope that Congress will find a way to agree on changing just a few words to save the government some money and enable these chimpanzees to continue relocating to their hard-earned places in sanctuaries.

Yours sincerely,

Jane Goodall, Ph.D., DBE
Founder, the Jane Goodall Institute &
UN Messenger of Peace


the Jane Goodall Institute-USA Headquarters
1595 Spring Hill Road | Suite 550 | Vienna, VA 22182

Phone 703.682.9283 | Fax 703.682.9312

We’ve come a long way, but Jane and the Jane Goodall Institute won’t rest until all federally owned and privately owned research chimpanzees are retired and moved into appropriate sanctuaries.



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