A very disturbing piece of news was published a few days ago about chimpanzees currently living at the Alamogordo Primate Facility (APF) at the Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. For the original article, click here.
(APF is not to be confused with the sanctuary Save the Chimps, who rescued 266 chimpanzees from research in 2002, and is moving chimpanzees from the facility they own near APF to islands in Florida.)
Alamogordo Primate Facility is being run by Charles River Laboratories under a contract from the National Institutes of Heath (NIH). The laboratory has come under serious scrutiny many times over the years, and even charged with animal cruelty, though the stipulations of their NIH contract prevent the chimpanzees from being used in invasive research.
Now, the NIH has decided to close APF and transfer the chimpanzees to research laboratories where they could be put into invasive biomedical research. It is a tragic and backwards move for those 200 individuals and for the protection of chimpanzees in general.
The group Animal Protection of New Mexico (APNM) is trying to fight this move, and they encourage everyone to contact their representatives about this issue, whether they live in New Mexico or not. These chimpanzees are supported by our tax dollars and we have a say in how that money is to be spent.
APNM would like the chimpanzees to stay in Alamogordo and for a sanctuary to take over the facility to allow the permanent retirement of the chimpanzees.
Please call your federal representatives or write a polite email or letter to them. For talking points, visit the APNM webpage on the issue and read this strong editorial from the Albuquerque Journal, New Mexico’s major newspaper, published this morning:
Link to article: http://www.abqjournal.com/opinion/editorials/162128150871opinioneditorials07-16-10.htm
Friday, July 16, 2010
Feds’ Chimp Transfer A Lose-Lose-Lose Deal
The federal government’s plan to move chimpanzees from the Alamogordo Primate Facility to a San Antonio lab is wrong on so many levels it’s hard to believe someone with all 23 human chromosome pairs approved it.
â€¢ Morally, it’s abhorrent to take more than 200 sentient beings that have spent decades living with the endless boredom, confinement, fear and stress of laboratory life and â€” after a 10-year hiatus from testing â€” thrust them back into it because a bureaucrat at the National Institutes of Health thinks “mechanisms for increasing the cost-effectiveness of chimpanzee breeding, maintenance, and research must be developed.”
â€¢ Fiscally, it’s irresponsible because there is no cost-effectiveness to chimp research. The lifetime tab for maintaining one chimpanzee in a lab has been estimated at nearly $900,000. Animal Protection of New Mexico says converting APF â€” where the chimps now live â€” to a sanctuary would save taxpayers $50 million. It would also keep 42 jobs in Alamogordo.
Sending the 200-plus chimps to Texas will also incur the taxpayer-funded expense of retrofitting the Southwest Foundation National Primate Research Center so it can accommodate animals that weigh up to 170 pounds. The facility was built for macaques, which weigh only about 30 pounds.
â€¢ Scientifically, it’s wasteful. While chimpanzees and humans have genetic similarities, they are so different on a cellular level that research into a long list of infectious diseases has proven fruitless. After more than four decades of chimp research into hepatitis C, there is still no human vaccine â€” in part because chimps don’t transmit the disease like humans. Chimps also develop heart disease and cancer in completely different ways. They don’t develop AIDS and die from HIV, the reason the government’s ill-conceived breeding program has created a surplus of infected, captive animals.
There are solid reasons why no other developed nation in the world still uses chimps for testing; countries from Australia to the United Kingdom have banned the practice. And yet the United States, circa 2010, plans to take animals that have already unknowingly given their health and freedom, and incur additional taxpayer expense for what, exactly?
New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall has requested a meeting with the NIH. The rest of the state’s congressional delegation should join him, and each member must demand answers and alternatives that address this plan’s moral, fiscal and scientific problems.