Biomedical and invasive research on chimpanzees will no longer be supported by the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH). They further decided last Wednesday that they will retire the 50 chimps reserved for future studies.
"We find no evidence that there is a need to continue to do research of an invasive sort on chimpanzees, not now and not going into the future", said Dr. Collins. The decision will finally close the controversial federally funded primate testing and follow the 2013 decision to retire chimpanzees to animal sanctuaries.
In addition, an allocation of $3 million to house additional animals plus the $30 million sanctuary budget set aside by federal legislators last 2000 will be requested to the Congress. In an interview, Collins cited two rationale to coming up with the decision according to the New York Times. First, the 2011 extensive independent assessment that assessed chimpanzee's use on biomedical research led the agency to retire the 300 government-owned chimpanzees two years after and also to set more stringent rules on primates' research.
Second, under the Endangered Species Act released in June, all chimps were labeled endangered. In line with this, the designation set the bar higher, requiring scientists to seek permits before performing any invasive experiments.
"When you put those things together, it seems inescapable," he said. "We have moved on beyond the time when research on chimpanzees was considered essential."
While ending the use of chimps on research, Collins made clear that they will still be conducting behavioral and observation research on other animals like the rhesus monkeys. "We have the information we need that keeping the animals in reserve was no longer justified."
On the other hand, animal rights activists received the announcement with triumph. The Humane Society of the United States' vice president for animal research Kathleen Conlee recalled, "When in 2013 they announced they would release the majority of chimps, some people focused on the 50 that would be left behind... And I said, 'Don't worry, someday we will get them protected.' And today, we did."