Talk Back: Great Cruelty to Great Apes

By on March 9, 2009 with 0 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Last Wednesday we rolled out the results and video of our latest long-term undercover investigation, revealing the troubling mistreatment and long-term confinement of chimpanzees and other primates at the University of Louisiana's New Iberia Research Center, one of the nation's largest primate research laboratories. ABC News' "Nightline" aired some of our footage Wednesday evening, bringing additional investigative reporting and attention to the subject. I also presented a complaint to the U.S. Department of Agriculture last week, presenting information on at least 338 possible violations of the Animal Welfare Act at the lab.

Just a day after the release of the investigation, leading animal advocates in Congress introduced legislation to ban invasive experiments on chimpanzees and to retire them to accredited sanctuaries, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has ordered a thorough investigation of animal welfare practices at New Iberia, and we've asked Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to immediately retire the elderly, wild-caught chimpanzees who remain at the lab.

We've been inundated with comments from you, as well, and today I wanted to post some of your feedback.

This is an outrage and totally unacceptable. It breaks my heart for these animals to be basically tortured for our gain. And the fact that it is funded by my tax dollars is also extremely upsetting. I hope with the new Sec. of Ag. that the Animal Welfare Act will be enforced and hopefully these wonderful creatures be retired as soon as possible to appropriate sanctuaries. It's the least we can do for them. God bless the HSUS for exposing all the horror that goes on behind closed doors and bless the undercover investigator!!! —Karomy Harmel

I watched this show with tears streaming down my face. All I could do was just ask God to please help these poor animals. It was obvious that the workers in the video had no problem inflicting pain on their innocent victims. I hope there are more reports about the cruelty in research facilities using all kinds of animals. The public needs to see and understand just what goes on in these torture centers. —Barbara

The manner in which we mistreat our fellow primates in research labs is an abomination. They are our closest living relatives and to brutalize smart, sociable and sensitive beings in such a vile manner is both a crime and a crime against the creator. —Brien Comerford

Would it not be worth it if the researchers could save human lives? If you have ever lost a loved one to a disease maybe some of you would understand. Animals are not of the same values that humans are. The bible speaks of this. Do you all not believe in God? Of course not, you just use animals for fundraisers, you’re no better than the people you are persecuting! Special interest groups like you (liars) are the main reason America is in the shape it is today! Why not use some of your great amassed wealth in helping people? i.e. homeless, starving, children, abused children, anything to help people. You know why, you don’t care about nothing except the $$$$ you raise in the name of animal welfare (rights). You make me sick! —Andrew

God bless Lisa Fletcher for showing this story. I can't even image how any of the research results from these labs can have any validity when these poor animals live their lives under such stressful, emotionally damaging conditions. How could any research results not be tainted by the mental, physical and emotional conditions of these beings? Even for those not totally against use of animals in research, no one who believes them to be God's creations can stand to see them spend their lives under such cruel conditions. This is surely a perversion and abusive exploitation of their God-given purpose in the world. Praise also to the courageous whistle-blowers, ABC and HSUS undercover for shedding the light of truth on these horrific conditions. —Michelle

It really makes me sad and angry at the same time … how dare they treat these innocent creatures in such a way? One thing is using them for research and another thing is mistreating them to the point of driving them crazy! Shame, shame, shame! I don't want part of my tax-paying money to go towards this type of barbaric program. Stop this now please! —Maria Mihan

I can't tell you how depressed I got receiving that link to the ABC abuse of chimps piece. I am a cancer survivor and owe my life many times over to the many animal lives that were lost. I am disgusted to see how callously we treat all animals, how dismissive we are of their right to freedom and self-determination. What has come out of my second chance is my devotion to support HSUS and your efforts to eliminate all animal abuse … I am teaching this to my 400+ elementary students. I hope the message sticks. —Roxiane

Thank you for your article exposing the cruelty and inhumane treatment of chimpanzees and other primates at NIRC in Louisiana. Those who are as horrified as I am might be encouraged to know that some facilities have been established to help provide sanctuary and refuge for laboratory primates that have finally been retired from "service." Please consider donating to Chimp Haven (featured on PBS, the series Nature), also in Louisiana (, phone 888-982-4467. Another worthwhile and accredited site for primates is Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary in Gainesville, Fla. ( Both provide a place to heal from the horrors you describe and show in your video. —Chantal Church

A number of you also asked how you can help to prevent this abuse or shared stories of how you responded (we're asking supporters to first contact your U.S. Representative and ask them to cosponsor the Great Ape Protection Act; then our Chimp Action Toolkit offers other ideas).

As a veterinarian, animal lover, and HSUS supporter, I found it difficult to watch this video; however, I commend HSUS and the undercover investigator for providing us with this information. The treatment of these beautiful creatures at this facility is worse than I imagined and simply heart wrenching. I have not been able to get the images out of my mind and wish there was something more I personally could do to stop this torture and to put an end to research using primates. I contacted my congressmen by email and phone. I forwarded the info to my friends and family for their support. And I contributed money to HSUS. What else can we do to put an end to this horrendous research? —Karen Schreiber

I sent this video to over 30 people and wrote to my elected officials, one who is a veterinarian by education. Hope that I can at least raise the awareness of others and perhaps do my part in changing the law. —Rivka

Animal Research and Testing

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