- Chimpanzees are very intelligent, have long memories, and suffer from the stress, confinement, and lack of mental stimulation that can occur in laboratory settings.
- There is evidence that shows using chimpanzees in biomedical testing has not taught us much about human disease or treatment. Even though they are our closest living genetic relatives, there are molecular differences between chimpanzees and humans. We have a different evolutionary history, which has created differing immunities and potential reactions to drugs and disease. For example, chimpanzees can be infected with HIV but very rarely show symptoms of AIDS.
- Up until very recently, the United States was the last known industrialized nation in the world still using chimpanzees in the biomedical industry, but things have changed recently.
- Since the 1970s, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) recognized captive chimpanzees as a threatened species while their free-living counterparts were endangered. This split-listing made captive chimpanzees exempt to certain protections offered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and it allowed for their use in biomedical research. After years of campaigning for captive chimpanzees to be “up-listed,” the USFWS officially recognized all chimpanzees as endangered in September 2015. Chimpanzees now are afforded protections under the ESA.
- The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced in early 2013 recommendations to retire the majority government-owned chimpanzees into the Federal Sanctuary System. After the 2015 up-list, the NIH announced its intention to retire all (not just the majority) of government-owned chimpanzees to sanctuaries.
- Work is underway to ensure that the over 400 chimpanzees still in biomedical research are released to sanctuaries.