NIH announces plans for transfer of chimps from laboratories to sanctuaries

By on August 11, 2016 with 12 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has just released an official plan for the retirement to permanent sanctuary of the hundreds of government-owned and -supported chimpanzees, paving the way for the movement of these chimpanzees to commence in earnest. Back in November, after prior announcements that it was getting out of the business of using chimps in invasive experiments, the NIH announced it was abandoning plans to maintain a colony of 50 chimpanzees for possible use in research and would instead retire them all to sanctuary. The decision to end decades of invasive government-funded experiments on chimps came after expert deliberations that concluded with a declaration that chimpanzees are no longer necessary for biomedical research, given the development and recognition of alternative methods and approaches. The gate on invasive chimp experiments was closed and then locked in 2015 after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (in response to an HSUS-led petition) listed captive chimpanzees as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, providing them the same level of protections as wild chimpanzees. Today’s announcement is a follow up to those momentous actions.

According to the NIH’s plan, the first chimpanzees slated to be moved to Chimp Haven, the national chimpanzee sanctuary, will be those now at Alamogordo Primate Facility in New Mexico (approximately 140 chimpanzees). They will be followed by those held at MD Anderson’s Keeling Center in Texas (also currently 140 chimpanzees) and then, by around 80 chimpanzees at Texas Biomedical Research Center whose care has been supported by NIH. Chimp Haven has space for as many as 75 chimpanzees now and NIH has committed to start moving animals to sanctuary as soon as possible. Happily, the 19 government-owned chimpanzees who used to reside at Texas Biomed have already moved to Chimp Haven this past spring.

We are very grateful to Dr. Francis Collins, director of NIH, for his leadership on this issue and his dedication to get all government-owned chimpanzees retired. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, a few in the animal research community do not want to see chimpanzees move to sanctuary and have fought this effort every step of the way—especially those with different types of vested interests in maintaining government-owned chimpanzees. Sadly, there have been recent attempts to keep the chimpanzees in laboratories by publicly attacking Chimp Haven’s reputation. You can see Chimp Haven’s response to these cynical and ridiculous attacks here.

Chimp Haven is one of the best chimpanzee sanctuaries in the world, is home to nearly 200 chimpanzees, and provides the highest welfare standards for government-owned chimps at a lower cost than laboratories. Chimp Haven often takes in chimpanzees who are elderly and in poor health after years as research subjects, and its leadership has done an amazing job providing these chimpanzees with comfort, enrichment, and top-flight care.

This plan from NIH is an important step, but the story doesn’t end there. In order to ensure the retirement of all 360 government-owned chimpanzees, Chimp Haven will need to expand significantly. Because not all of the government owned and supported chimpanzees can be moved by the end of the year, it will become important to work with the next administration to ensure the plan continues to move forward. Sanctuary is where these chimpanzees belong and the support of animal protection groups, the NIH, the public, and legislators will continue to be critical to see this effort through.

We do not intend to leave these animals on the battlefield. We’ve driven the campaign to get chimps out of animal research, we’ve driven the campaign to end their split-listing by the federal government, we’ve driven the conversation about their permanent and ultimate protection, and we won’t consider our job complete until they all find safe passage and public recognition for their sacrifice.

Animal Research and Testing, Wildlife/Marine Mammals

Subscribe to the Blog

Enter your email address below to receive updates each time we publish new content.


Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Fran Leard says:

    Thank you for the amazing work to free these babies and keep them in a sanctuary. This needs to be done for all the animals still locked away in these horrible lab conditions. God bless you all for the hard work and dedication to free our animals.

  2. Kathleen Maddox says:

    Wonderful news! This gives me hope that we, as a society, are moving toward the day when we will treat all animals with the respect and compassion that they have long been denied but truly deserve. Thank you to everyone who worked to save these chimps!

  3. Rosemary Tofexis says:

    Oh God, I am SO happy these Chimps will finally be allowed to have a Normal Life!!!!! Now, ALL the poor tortured animals who are used for experiments, (ie; rabbits, monkeys, dogs, cats, rats and more), need to be released to have a normal life and other means can be used for experiments and leave our precious Animals Alone!!!!!! Even the Orcas they experiment on!!!!! All animals and Mammals need to be freed!!! God put them on this Earth to be free and we are to protect and save them from any kind of abuse and torture!!!!! Very happy for these Chimps!!!!! xxx

  4. Robert Goldman says:

    Totally fantastic news! I can feel the joy of the chimps as they realize they are free from the labs at last. Free at last. Thank you Wayne and HSUS for remaining faithful to each chimp and staying with this endeavor to the end.

  5. Janet FitzGerald says:

    What would it take to get an animal rights’ question submitted and accepted for one of the Presidential debates (assuming Trump doesn’t back out)?

    And thank you for all you are doing. I am trying best I can to spread the word, every day I can…

  6. Lana Thomas says:

    This is so wonderful…can’t express the gratitude I have in my heart for the mercy shown these animals. God bless all involved.

  7. Kathy says:

    Thank you for all your hard work to finally give this species of God’s creatures the freedom and humane treatment that has so long been deserved. I have recently began purchasing cruelty free products only and hope the movement increases. The animals should have all the rights that humans on this earth have. We were created to share it with them not to enslave them and play God.

  8. snow lightning says:

    Awesome, now how about closing down the primate facility at Wake Forest Medical School ? In business since the 1950’s, unacceptable at this point in time. Born and breed in captivity, tortured and killed. Along with countless other animals on their “farm” they are so very proud of. Strange I would think they should be proud of kindness not cruelty. They are a teaching hospital as well as a research center.

  9. paige says:


  10. Henrietta Komras says:

    Thank you for the fantastic job you do in freeing animals from horrific slavery by people/institutions who treat them as things rather than as sentient beings. This gives me hope that one day there will never be anymore animal research, animals testing and slaughterhouses.

Share a Comment

The HSUS encourages open discussion, and we invite you to share your opinion on our issues. By participating on this page, you are agreeing to our commenting policy.
Please enter your name and email address below before commenting. Your email address will not be published.