Check out the moment when a group of chimpanzees who have lived their lives at the New Iberia laboratory in Louisiana step out into the sun at Chimp Haven for the first time.
Some of them are more than 50 years old and were stolen from the wild as infants.
It’s all part of a commitment by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to phase out invasive research on chimpanzees currently “owned” by the government.
There are many more chimpanzees yet to be sent into retirement, and they’re not home and dry yet. The NIH says it doesn’t have the funds to place them all in sanctuaries.
One of the laboratories funded by NIH is the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University in Georgia. Yerkes houses 78 chimpanzees. Yerkes says it doesn’t have the money to pay for it chimpanzees to retire to a sanctuary. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
“We are very concerned about what it will cost our center to adhere to the recommendations for the ethologically appropriate physical and social environments,” Yerkes spokeswoman Lisa Newbern said in an email.
She said the new recommendations “would provide larger space per chimpanzee than many humans have in their own homes.”
To which Dr. Lori Marino of the Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy comments:
[Yerkes] neglects to take into account that humans are able to leave their homes and freely go where they wish. This is a fundamental need of all chimpanzees and is denied to those held captive at research facilities such as Yerkes.
Meanwhile, we have yet to see how the across-the-board budget cuts mandated by our troubled Congress will affect the planned retirement of all these captive animals.