Who is Eligible to Retire?
The Council Working Group January 2013 report recommended retiring all but 50 NIH owned chimpanzees to Chimp Haven, the federal sanctuary system.
The NIH announced in June 2013 that it has accepted this recommendation but can’t fully implement it yet. The CHIMP Act of 2000 that lead to the establishment of Chimp Haven, put a cap on how much government funds could be used and that cap has been reached and needs to be lifted. The NIH says “We agree that the majority of chimpanzees that the NIH owns could be eligible for retirement, but the federal sanctuary system needs additional capacity.” The NIH “agrees with the recommendation subject to the availability of additional sanctuary space and the elimination of funding restrictions so that the agency can provide additional funding to the federal sanctuary system.”
Latest census data shows that the following facilities hold NIH-owned chimpanzees: Alamogordo Primate Facility has 162 NIH-owned chimpanzees, Michale E. Keeling Center has 167 NIH-owned chimpanzees; Southwest has 24 NIH-owned chimpanzees; and as of July 2013 and there are still 63 NIH-owned chimpanzees at New Iberia Research Center that are scheduled to move to Chimp Haven in the Fall 2013.
Some of these individual chimpanzees may be too old or otherwise in ill-health and that would make the journey to sanctuary risky. Others may be in social groups that include non-NIH owned chimpanzees and dividing the groups may not be in the chimpanzees’ best interest. 50 of these chimpanzees will be held for research purposes. Nonetheless, all of them are currently eligible for retirement and funds are needed so that as many of them as possible can make it to sanctuary.