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The NIH Is Retiring All of Its Research Chimpanzees

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The National Institutes of Health has announced that it’s bringing its chimpanzee testing programme to an entire halt, sending its 50 remaining primates to sanctuaries.

Nature reports that the NIH director Francis Collins announced to the agency earlier this week that the 50 chimpanzees that it owns will be retired. Meanwhile, other chimps that are supported by the NIH—though not directly owned by them—will also no longer be associated with the agency.


The NIH used to have a much larger chimp program, but it retired 310 of them in 2013. At the time, it kept 50 reserve animals to be used in case of emergency. But Collins tells Nature that only one request was issued for use of those reserve chimps in the last two years, and at any rate that application was later withdrawn.

The chimps will find new homes in sanctuaries across the U.S.. First on the list are 20 chimpanzees currently held at the Southwest National Primate Research Center in San Antonio, Texas, which will take up residence Chimp Haven in Keithville, Louisiana.


The news will be no doubt be greeted happily by animal rights activists—but some members of the research community may be less impressed.


Image by Tambako The Jaguar under Creative Commons license.