At Long Last, Testing on Chimps to End in the United States – and the World

By on September 4, 2015 with 48 Comments

A century of invasive experiments on chimpanzees in the United States will come to a halt in about 10 days. Science writer David Grimm recently reported that no researcher has applied for a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conduct additional invasive experiments on chimpanzees in the United States – and obtaining such a permit is a legal necessity now that all chimps, captive and wild, will be classified as “endangered” on September 14, 2015. Given the public notice requirements, the deadline for getting a permit before the rule goes into effect has passed, so the end of the era of unrestricted invasive experiments on chimps is now here.

Several weeks ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would grant an HSUS legal petition (supported by many other organizations, including the Jane Goodall Institute) seeking an end to a highly questionable “split listing” – which provided strong safeguards for chimpanzees in the wild while leaving captive chimps effectively unprotected and at the mercy of laboratory experiments, as well as exotic animal dealers and others with a long record of exploiting our closest living relatives. When announcing the new rule, the Service acknowledged that creating the loophole was “a mistake” and that it “encourage[d] a culture that treats these animals as a commodity.”

Starting on the 14th, at long last, it will be illegal to “take” a captive chimpanzee, which includes any action that harms or harasses the individual (such as invasive biomedical research or abusive training of performing apes). It will also be illegal to sell chimpanzees in the interstate pet trade or to engage in commercial transport of the animals across state lines. Any laboratory, menagerie, or exotic pet dealer that seeks to conduct prohibited activities with chimps will be required to first obtain a permit from the Service (and the public will have the opportunity to voice opposition to the application). Endangered Species Act permits can only lawfully be issued for activities that actually enhance the survival of the species in the wild, so this rule is expected to close out a shameful era of abuse that lasted for a century.

Help is on the way for the 745 or so chimpanzees currently in five U.S. laboratories and more in roadside zoos. Now comes the task of an orderly transfer of these hundreds of chimps from laboratory settings to sanctuaries, where the animals will not only have more space, but enrichment and an opportunity to live in social groups that are critical for their emotional health.

This Fish and Wildlife Service action follows major movement from the National Institutes of Health and its director, Dr. Francis Collins, who in 2013 announced that his agency will retire approximately 300 federally-owned chimpanzees to sanctuary. The HSUS spent years advocating for these victories, including conducting an undercover investigation at the largest chimpanzee laboratory, filing a legal petition challenging unlawful breeding activity at that facility, securing congressional provisions encouraging the shift, and pushing the NIH to retire all of the federally-owned chimpanzees from the lab. Many others, including former Governor Bill Richardson, D-NM, Senator Tom Udall, D-NM, former Senator Tom Harkin, D-IA, and Representative Fred Upton, R-MI, had a big hand in these outcomes, and we are indebted to them for their efforts.

The HSUS and others continue to work tirelessly to give all chimps what they deserve, raising funds to build sanctuary capacity, and filing a legal petition urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to adopt stricter standards to promote the psychological wellbeing of captive primates. At the same time that we work to protect chimps on our own soil, we have launched an emergency effort to provide care to over 60 chimpanzees unconscionably abandoned by the New York Blood Center after decades of research in Liberia.

I have frequently blogged about our array of animal care programs and the enormous breadth of our capacity to effect transformational change. But this development is something very special. It’s rare to be able to say “this is the end of an era of abuse.” This outcome is one for the ages, and it deserves a pant-hoot from every animal advocate the world over.

Help the chimps abandoned by NYBC »

Animal Research and Testing, Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Annoula Wylderich says:

    Always good to see progress, because all lives do matter, including those of other species.

  2. michelle bombet minch says:

    it’s about time! What will happen to the big testing lab in Oregon? Thankful for new alternative testing technologies such as this one out of israel:

  3. Kathie says:

    I’m thrilled but having a hard time believing the NIH will no longer test on primates, ever?

    • David Bernazani says:

      Kathie, this blog is about chimpanzees only. Many other nonhuman primates (NHPs) besides chimpanzees are still imprisoned and are being used in laboratories around the world, including the U.S. According to Wiki:
      “Around 65,000 NHPs are used every year in the United States, and around 7,000 across the European Union. Most are purpose-bred, while some are caught in the wild.
      “Most of the NHPs used are one of three species of macaques, accounting for 79% of all primates used in research in the UK, and 63% of all federally funded research grants for projects using primates in the U.S.[16] Lesser numbers of marmosets, tamarins, spider monkeys, owl monkeys, vervet monkeys, squirrel monkeys, and baboons are used in the UK and the US.”
      So you see, we still have a long way to go. But at least chimps, probably the most intelligent and socially active of the nonhuman primates, are out of the clutches of people wanting to imprison and experiment on them.

      • Athena says:

        I’m very happy for the chimpanzees, but it made me wonder if they would just test more on other monkeys…

      • Denise says:

        Amen to that!! Guess we need to get a move on the rest of our animal friends. I am an animal advocate and take care of many strays in my area that are neglected or just plain not cared about I feed them and get them spayed or neutered. I know it’s not as drastic as imprisoned animals being abused and used for testing, but I do what I can. Hurrah for the accomplishments that we can make and for the future ones as well.

    • Ina says:

      I say test on the murderers, rapists and child molesters of the world. They lost all their rights as humans when they committed such disgusting acts. If products are made for humans, test on humans!

      • Katrina Smallwood says:


        I am so happy to see someone else shares my same view. We have so many lifers in prison that I think would be perfect test subjects.

    • Melissaochoa says:

      This is only for chimps. Other primates like macaques will continue to be used.

    • laura says:

      Probably not all primates. Monkeys aren’t technically chimps and a lot of research is done on macaque monkeys.

  4. Lucy James says:

    Unbelievably good news, brings tears to my eyes.
    Thank you for all you do, Wayne.

  5. barbara chapman says:

    Yes great if they really mean but not 100% I trust them because they have not bothered about the ones they left to starve and haven’t even mentioned them in their statement

    • Joyce says:

      At last, I hope it happens quickly especially the rescue of the 745 in laboratories. Well done all the dedicated campaigners.

  6. Henry Horwitz says:

    Great progress! Let’s make sure to enforce this law! This is just a small albeit a good step forward in our treatment of all animals globally. Let’s all keep up the good work!

  7. Catherine Pierce says:

    Awesome!!! Now what about all the other primates being used in research? Is anyone fighting for them?

  8. Susan Backlinie Swindall says:

    thanks for this new policy. No more primate research!

  9. pat gazzoli says:

    is this just chimps or all non-human primates?

  10. Sherri says:

    i wonder if this will include the horrible research lab at the U. Of Wisconsin, Milwaukee?

  11. Laurie Prior @Amazing_L1fe says:

    This is the best news I’ve read in a long time! Hopefully, it’s just the start of many more changes to come. Thank you for all you do!

  12. Anim says:

    It shows what a grotesque farce vivisection is– I thought they always claimed that vivisection upon chimps was necessary because they were close relatives? That it lead to such amazing medical breakthroughs? So what does that mean for other species? They are much further away in compatibility. Thus using them for experimentation should make even less sense-but there was never sense in vivisection to begin with.

  13. Sylvia Thomas says:

    They should never tested any animals in the first place that’s why the prison is over crowding you can use them …

  14. Heidi says:

    I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS LONG FIGHT FOR OUR CHIMPS IS NOW OUR VICTORY! THEIR VICTORY!!! I’ve been studying the Great Apes since I was 10 years old & have always wanted to fight for their freedom! I will be 40 in January. THIS IS THE BEST BIRTHDAY GIFT I COULD EVER ASK FOR! I AM AT PEACE KNOWING THAT THEY WILL SOON BE TOO.

  15. Chris Michael Burns says:

    Wayne, thanks for reporting. If the reason chimps are granted this new protection is that “all chimps, captive and wild, will be classified as “endangered”, could they lose this protection in the future if they lose their status as endangered?

  16. Nancy says:

    Thank you thank you thank you.

  17. Patricia Robinson says:

    I want to help

  18. Lanette Norris says:


  19. Tamara Kelley says:

    I am overcome.

  20. gary says:

    There are plenty of prisoners they could do any testing on.

  21. William lindsay says:

    I am very happy that they finally are doing something about the abuse of out dear little animals. I am strongly against animal abuse and torture, this really makes me şick. Thanks for the animal lovers that made this happen. God bless each and every one,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,.

  22. Gail Clark says:

    At long last, they will no longer be able to subject these incredible beings to the various tortures mentioned. However, we must remain vigilant since there are other species languishing even as we read this.

  23. Jodie says:

    This is wonderful news but will have to be proven for it to be believed. ALL animals need to be protected from testing, not just chimps.

  24. Lottie says:

    This is wonderful news, a huge and significant step in the right direction. Be aware however that pharma companies outsource a lot of their animal experimentation to countries such as China so they can exploit the much laxxer regulations there. Legislation would need to prevent this too, if this is really going to extend to “the world”.
    Other “non-human primates” continue to suffer in sickening numbers as every drug must be tested in a nhp species before human testing can commence.

  25. carlos marrero says:

    Wonderful work

  26. Jane matthew says:

    If it is unconscionable to treat these animals as commodities, why is it not also unconscionable to treat ALL animals as commodities in this way? Won’t this treatment now be inflicted on the huge numbers of monkeys, dogs,rabbits and all those other species used for scientific research. Why is that also worse than “taking” an animal in the dreadful fur trade of to ripped to shredsby dogs or left to die in traps which happens to to millions more sensate intelligent animals in the USA than a few hundred chimpanzees and is just as wrong. Do I believe this stpry. Probably not. Certainly not all the spin around it. Sooner or later we’ll probably discover it was the sop to some industrial list who has decided to enter politics or sell arms to ISIS or some such.

  27. mike penn says:

    I wonder why it is that I’m finding it hard to believe that this is the end, maybe its because this could simply be a precursor to moving the research overseas. British researchers have been doing just that by carrying out invasive procedures on wild caught primates in Africa to bypass British laws and restrictions.

  28. Jerri Sandman says:

    Outwardly great news. I’m concerned about the captive chimps in the interim of now and 9/14 and question checks and balances in place as well as accountability from that day forward.

  29. Charles Allen duke says:

    All the chimpanzees both captive and wild will rejoice at this news. It is our duty as fellow primates to end this slavery and mistreatment. Please don’t forget all those chimpanzees in road-side zoos and those kept as ‘pets’. Bravo.

  30. Sherry says:

    “Until he extends the circle of compassion to all livings things, Man will not himself find peace.”
    –Albert Schweitzer

    “He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.”
    –Immanuel Kant

  31. Angie says:

    Thank you for stopping this horrific practice. Testing on animals is not acceptable.

  32. Justina says:

    I am grateful for the people undertaking efforts to create a safer home on this planet for our fellow animals. I can only hope this care will extent over all living creatures that our species harasses. We are the only source of cruelty on this planet, for as long as we classify some beings as food, others as fashion, or beauty products, some as amusement, or simply property.. This is what we chose to do with the “intelligence” we so pride ourselves with.

  33. Kirsten Krivoshia says:

    OMG, *sniff* tears of joy!!! This is truly momentus –a HUGE victory for our dear chimp friends– ‘so like us’! Slowly but surely, we ARE evolving. <3

  34. Jack berry says:

    Check out youtube levon kennedy for animals rights videos

  35. B says:

    Unless you’re the government, then you can still experiment on chimps without permission from anybody.

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