Congress Expands Entitlements for Chimpanzees

“It’s a great day for federally owned chimpanzees.”

National Journal
Brian Resnick
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Brian Resnick
Nov. 15, 2013, 10:49 a.m.

This week, in a mo­ment of sober bi­par­tis­an agree­ment, the House and Sen­ate voted to ex­tend re­tire­ment be­ne­fits for the na­tion’s re­search chim­pan­zees.  

As Na­tion­al Journ­al‘s Elahe Iz­adi re­por­ted a few weeks ago, the Na­tion­al In­sti­tutes of Health was quickly ap­proach­ing a $30 mil­lion ceil­ing for the amount it could spend on re­search-chimp re­tire­ments.

This left the agency in a bind, as the NIH is phas­ing out many of the ex­per­i­ments it con­ducts with chimps. A 2011 re­port found that most re­search con­duc­ted on them is un­ne­ces­sary, and in the com­ing months 310 an­im­als (out of 360) will be re­tired. Though it prob­ably wouldn’t have come to it, eu­thanas­ia could have been used if it was deemed to be in the best in­terest of the an­im­als.

With the new bill, fund­ing is se­cured through 2023. Over the next four years, the Con­gres­sion­al Budget Of­fice says, it will cost $55 mil­lion.

Chimp ad­voc­ates were ec­stat­ic at the news.

“It’s a great day for fed­er­ally owned chim­pan­zees,” Cathy Wil­lis Spraetz, pres­id­ent and CEO of Chimp Haven in Keithville, La. (the na­tion­al chimp re­tire­ment com­munity sanc­tu­ary), told The Wash­ing­ton Post. “I am break­ing out the cham­pagne as we speak.”

And it is ex­cit­ing. Who wouldn’t want to re­tire to a fa­cil­ity with ample “climb­ing, swinging, and rest­ing op­tions as well as views of the sur­round­ing areas,” along with 200 acres of forest and ac­com­mod­a­tions for “large so­cial groups.”

As ad­vert­ised on the Chimp Haven web­site: “How the chim­pan­zees choose to spend their day is up to them.”

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