Giving ’til it HurtsPosted by Dana Campbell, ALDF Attorney on November 30, 2010
I know a lot of the media and animal lovers have been focused on the plight of turkeys what with another passing of the Thanksgiving holiday, and rightly so, but I just can’t stop thinking about those poor chimpanzees. You know, the ones discussed in a September New York Times article which brought to light the fact that 186 chimps who were supposedly retired from use in research will be called back into service as research subjects in 2011. As this excellent article noted, these are chimps who have already given “their bodies, their health, their children to research,” some of them confined for decades. The oldest among the group, Flo, is a mature 53 years old.
I still sharply remember the celebrations we had at ALDF a decade ago when we learned that the chimps at the abusive Coulston Foundation research labs in New Mexico were to be removed to the much improved Alamogordo Primate Facility at Holloman Air Force Base. As part of an agreement between the National Institutes of Health (NIH), who had oversight of the research animals, and the military concerning the chimps’ rescue and rehoming, the 186 chimps were not to be used as research subjects for 10 years. As a result, they have spent their days at Holloman doing what chimps do: hanging out with their own kind, looking for food, climbing and playing, etc.
However, now that the 10-year agreement has run its course, the unimaginable is happening: NIH has decided to press the chimps back into medical research service, and is making plans to ship them back out to labs, intending to have them all moved by 2011. Apparently 15 have already been shipped out.
Which leads me to fits of anger and spouting of both obscenities and clichés, such as “haven’t they done enough?” and “enough is enough” and “talk about giving ’til it hurts!” Then I start thinking about what I can do about it. One is to see if we can take legal action here at ALDF, and we are exploring our options.
The other is to ask all of you readers to help. One thing that can be done is to write respectful letters objecting to the move to Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and to New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman. Urge them to allow these beautiful primates to continue to live out the rest of their lives in retirement, either at the base or other sanctuaries. They’ve done their service to their country, and deserve nothing less.