Chimpanzees Used in Research

According to the Jane Goodall Institute, (JGI), there is estimated to be 1,000 or more chimpanzees kept in research institutions around the world and the majority of them are now currently used in the United States.

It is amazing to know that we are essentially 98% chimpanzee due to our genetic relatedness. This is also very sad because it makes chimpanzees good research subjects for human diseases because they are so much like humans. Many times chimpanzees are used in research that could not be tested on human subjects.

Much of the research community has kept its practices and its use of chimpanzees away from the public. Research companies do this so they donít have to worry about the public interfering with their research. Many times when a popular animal, like the chimpanzee, is being treated poorly negative public appeal can shut down whatever company or study that is harming the animal. Most of the research that is done on chimpanzees is very invasive. The experiments affect their health, and can dramatically alter their quality of life. In addition to tests that might make the chimpanzees sick, the research will often require chimpanzees to be separated from social groups or kept in smaller cages for easier observation. In the past there were no regulations on what research could be done with chimps or how they should be housed.  This led to hundreds, if not thousands, of chimps that lived in conditions that would not be suitable for any animal, let alone the intelligent, long lived chimpanzee.

Some people may feel guilty about wanting better medicines for people, but not wanting to hurt animals in the process, especially the chimpanzee.  Luckily for us the modern world is making huge strides in the world of technology, which has allowed medical research to continue without the huge demand for chimpanzee subjects. Also, the political world has been awoken by the outcries from the public and large chimpanzee welfare organizations. These organizations state that not only do chimpanzees suffer emotional and physical pain while in captivity, but the public suffers as well by paying taxes that might ultimately fund expensive medical research involving chimps. To keep one chimpanzee for a year can cost as much at $10,000.Just think of how much you could help the conservation of wild chimps in Africa with that much money! Luckily, there has been legislation passed in European countries to completely stop the use of chimps in research and even, in countries such as Spain, grant them laws similar to human rights.

The United States was not too far behind in granting a similar Chimp Act in 2000, which was signed by president Clinton.  However, the act did not call for the immediate stop of all chimpanzee research. Hopefully someday this will be the direction we will be heading in.

 

Message from CAC'ers

 

We learned in Mahale and Gombe about how endangered chimpanzees truly are. It seems amazing to us that the United States is the only country that can still justify using an endangered species in research to advance the human race. It made us very sad to know chimpanzees were still being used in research, especially when we know that there is technology that could take the place of chimps in research.

 

Smaller test subjects, such as mice, may someday be able to replace the need for chimpanzees in research. It is now known that 80% of human genes have identical counterparts in mice, but 99% of genes in mice and humans are comparable.

 

 

Content provided by Canisius College students under the direction of Michael Noonan, PhD.