Big step forward for chimps

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) just announced that it has accepted the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation of retiring over 300 of its chimpanzees. The US has been experimenting on chimpanzees for 90 years and is the last country in the industrialized world to do so.

Pumpkin, a 24-year-old chimpanzee at the Alamogordo Primate Facility, N.M.

The chimps’ similarity to humans makes them coveted for research, but it’s this very similarity that poses an ethical dilemma. Regardless of similarities, no animals should be used as research subjects, so it’s a great piece of news that most of the chimps will be retired.

The news is mixed though. Fifty chimps will remain with NIH. They won’t be bred, but that’s not enough. They also deserve to live out their lives at a sanctuary. Each one is an individual with unique traits and the right to live free from harm.

For more information, you can read the NIH press release and details at Chimpanzee Sanctuary NW.