A couple of weeks ago, I took a very special trip to Chimp Haven outside of Shreveport, Louisiana. It’s a sanctuary—one of several—for chimps retired from research, with 140 chimps roaming throughout a beautiful, humane, and safe facility.
Our federal government, along with a number of private labs, has used chimpanzees for invasive research for decades. The HSUS exposed abuses of chimps in a 2009 investigation at the New Iberia Research Center, also in Louisiana, and the largest of the chimp research centers in the country. One chimp at the facility had been in a laboratory since 1958—when Dwight Eisenhower was president of the United States.
Ironically, we discovered that not too long before I got to Chimp Haven, five chimps from New Iberia—Karen, Ladybird, Penny, Terry, and Jerry—had been released to the sanctuary after spending decades in laboratories.
At Chimp Haven in Louisiana.
The chimpanzees’ retirement came none too soon for Jerry, who reached the sanctuary with masses in his mouth so large he had trouble eating and drinking. Thanks to the outstanding veterinary care at Chimp Haven, the masses have been removed and his quality of life has improved.
Sadly, Terry—who was 45 and in failing health—passed away soon after her arrival. We are grateful that she was able to spend her last days in a caring and safe environment, but her death highlights the urgent need to allow the remaining elderly chimpanzees to live out the rest of their lives in peace and comfort at a sanctuary—before it's too late. You can help by asking New Iberia to retire these chimps.
Chimp Haven has big, open enclosures and even forested areas where the animals can roam and climb. Despite their mishandling by people in prior settings, they still retain so much personality. I was throwing fruits and vegetables to some of the chimps, and one caught the tomato and then playfully threw it back at me, like some mischievous person.
The HSUS strongly supports the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act (S. 810 / H.R. 1513) to phase out the use of all chimps in laboratories. Congress should enact this legislation, either through its deficit reduction work or as a free-standing bill. Not only will this bill stop the wasteful warehousing of these remarkable animals in labs, but it will also benefit American taxpayers with $30 million in savings annually.
These animals have already made their sacrifices. Now, on Veteran’s Day, it’s time for us to exhibit decency and mercy and let them live their lives in peace. The United States exists as the only industrialized nation in the world to still subject chimps to invasive research. It’s time to show our humanity and to protect these animal veterans.