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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Feds Support More Cruel Tests on the Alamogordo Chimpanzees

Flo_alamogordo_1Following is a statement released by the Animal Protection of New Mexico. Regarding how the NIH mislead th public about the Chimp Program. The image to the right is Flo the oldest chimpanzee at the Alamogordo Primate Facility in New Mexico, she is 53.

Government records reveal that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has continued to support invasive tests on the nearly 200 surviving Alamogordo Primate Facility chimpanzees.

Despite the NIH's written statement "the Alamogordo chimpanzees will not be used in invasive research."

Documents recently reviewed by Animal Protection of New Mexico (APNM) show the NIH approved a five-year, multimillion-dollar grant this past September to use all of the federally-owned chimps from New Mexico’s Alamogordo Primate Facility (APF) in cruel, invasive tests at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute (Texas Biomed).

In January 2011 the NIH told the public that the future management of the APF chimpanzees would be determined after the release of an independent report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) on the need for chimps in research. The IOM’s report is expected out by the end of the year. Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), and Tom Harkin (D-IA) formally requested an independent report on chimp research in December 2010, after months of passionate, public outcry and calls from dozens of leaders to protect the aging, ill chimps at the Alamogordo Primate Facility.

The NIH’s Health Science Administrator, Dr. Harold Watson, has evaded APNM’s questions about what taxpayer resources have already been allocated for NIH’s planned move of the chimpanzees from New Mexico. Watson misled APF employees last year, stating that there is a steady need for chimps in research and citing “empty space” at other labs as reasons why the Alamogordo Primate Facility had to be closed.

But U.S. chimp researchers, Dr. Thomas Rowell and Dr. Robert Purcell, testified before the IOM committee studying the need for chimps in research about the declining use of chimps in research over the past five years. Meanwhile, the Texas Biomed grant details how NIH funded the lab with a construction grant, facilities improvement grant, and supplements “in anticipation of the acquisition of the chimpanzees from APF.”

“The New Mexico chimps have fueled a national debate on how our country spends limited research dollars and why we can no longer justify using these sensitive, intelligent, traumatized individuals in invasive research,” said Laura Bonar, program director for APNM. “The NIH’s support of more painful, unnecessary tests on these chimps harms all Americans, and New Mexicans in particular.”

The NIH’s closure of the APF would mean a loss of at least $25 million to the local economy over the next ten years and unemployment for dozens of longtenured staff.

Captive chimps in New Mexico date back to the U.S. Air Force’s shipment of 65 infant chimpanzees taken from West Africa to Holloman Air Force Base in 1959. Chimps were initially used for the space program, then bred, leased and sold to a variety of institutions. Since 2001 the chimps have been free from invasive tests at the APF.

Texas Biomed’s grant application lists procedures planned for the New Mexico chimps over the next five years, including bone and lymph node biopsies, cerebrospinal fluid taps, serial sedations, hepatic injections, and vaginal and tracheal washes.

John VandeBerg, Principal Investigator on the Texas Biomed grant, would have final say to use even the most elderly and sick chimps in testing. VandeBerg states he aims, “to conduct research with the…chimpanzees…leading to increased use of the resource by investigators from across the country.”

“The NIH would see chimps like 54-year-old Flo suffer terribly simply because someone can still make money off her frail, broken body,” said Bonar. “Clearly, the chimps at the Alamogordo Primate Facility need to be permanently retired. The public deserves better than this plan that wastes millions of tax dollars to cruelly torture chimps.”

The December 1, 2011, Alamogordo Primate Facility Update is attached here. This lays out an abbreviated description of the most recent hedious path we humans have put on these lifes.

December 6, 2011 at 06:36 AM in Action Alerts, Animal Protection | Permalink


What can concerned citizens do at this point? Who should we contact? Is this a done deal or can we still influence the final outcome?

Posted by: Lora Lucero | Dec 6, 2011 9:37:00 AM

The best chance the chimps have is the passage of The Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act. If everyone wrote to their members of Congress urging passage of this bill, and it passes, they would finally be safe. Petitions abound, but the most effective method is to call and write your representatives. If you have called, then write ! Get the word out to all your U.S. friends, although we are particularly concerned about the fate of the Alamogordo chimpanzees in New Mexico, this is a national issue, and anyone can ask their members of Congress to Cosponsor this bill. http://www.contactingthecongress.org/

Posted by: Anita Walsh | Dec 6, 2011 11:51:22 AM