Chimps Got Rights
The United States is one of only two nations where humans’ closest living relatives, chimpanzees, are still used as laboratory test animals. In labs across the US, chimps are exposed to diseases and experimental drugs, subjected to painful operations, and often spend their entire lives inside laboratories before being euthanized.
This may soon change. This summer, two US federal agencies announced steps that could end the use of chimpanzees for medical research.
On June 11, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced plans to list all chimpanzees, including those in captivity, as endangered. The plan would add more restrictions on experimenting on chimps by requiring a permit for almost all medical research on the animals. Permits would be granted only if the research were deemed to be for the benefit of chimpanzees.
The dual announcements follow years of campaigning by animal welfare groups such as the Humane Society of United States, the Jane Goodall Institute and the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance. Their efforts have been backed by scientific reports that have shown that there are alternatives to invasive experiments on chimps – such as human stem cell tests, experiments on other animals, as well as human testing – that are just as useful for science.
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