Tag Archives: NIH

It’s long past time to free chimpanzees from labs

By Justin Goodman
 
Last month, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that it would retire all federally owned chimpanzees from laboratories to sanctuaries, a move that came after decades of campaigning by PETA and other animal advocates. While this is welcome and long overdue news, the fight for chimpanzee freedom isn’t quite over yet.
 
Chimpanzees have been tormented in experiments since the early 1950s, when the U.S. Air Force captured dozens of young chimpanzees in Africa and brought them back to the States for use in violent crash tests that broke their necks, burned their skin off, caused traumatic brain injuries and killed many.
 
But the plight of chimpanzees in laboratories was not catapulted into the public consciousness until 1986, when a group of animal liberationists broke into the NIH-funded SEMA laboratory (now BIOQUAL) in Rockville, Maryland, and documented the miserable living conditions of nearly 700 chimpanzees and other primates who were infected with illnesses including HIV (even though we’ve known since then that chimpanzees do not get sick from HIV and never develop AIDS), locked alone inside cages too small for them to stand or lie down properly and imprisoned in the building’s basement, where they suffered in loneliness and pain. What activists found at SEMA jump-started efforts to free chimpanzees from laboratories.
 
Dr. Jane Goodall described a subsequent visit to SEMA as “the worst experience of my life.” Over the next three decades, Dr. Goodall, PETA and other animal-protection groups campaigned vigorously to get approximately 1,000 chimpanzees out of laboratories (including BIOQUAL), organizing demonstrations, filing countless federal complaints, lobbying members of Congress, filing shareholder resolutions, criticizing the ineffectiveness of experiments on great apes and more.
 
A breakthrough came in 2011, when a landmark Institute of Medicine (IOM) report commissioned by the NIH at the behest of Congress concluded that experiments on chimpanzees — including those taking place at the time in which baby chimpanzees were infected with norovirus or hepatitis — are “unnecessary,” something that PETA and others had testified to during the IOM hearings and had been saying for decades.

As a result, the NIH suspended funding for new experiments on chimpanzees while it considered its next steps.
 
In 2013, NIH announced that it was cutting funding for virtually all experiments on chimpanzees and retiring 310 of the 360 chimpanzees it owned to sanctuaries.

The remaining 50 were allegedly being kept for some hypothetical, unknown future use, an ill-advised decision criticized by PETA and others.
 
Then, in September of this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service expanded “endangered” status to chimpanzees in laboratories, effectively banning invasive experiments on these highly endangered animals and ruling out NIH’s plan to potentially use chimpanzees again in the future.

This and NIH’s determination that there is a “complete absence of interest” in such experiments provided the impetus behind last week’s announcement that all the chimpanzees held by the agency would be retired to sanctuaries.
 
However, despite NIH’s pledges dating back to 2013, few chimpanzees have actually been transferred from laboratories to sanctuaries and many have died while waiting.
 
Some of these chimpanzees are just a few years old, while others have been imprisoned in laboratories for half a century. They all now have a chance to experience the peace and freedom of a sanctuary. NIH needs to act quickly to fulfill its promise before any more chimpanzees die waiting for the freedom that they’ve been promised.
 
Members of Congress who’ve been advocating for retiring the chimpanzee since the 1990s recognize the urgency of the situation, too. Right after the NIH announcement, representatives Sam Farr and Lucille Roybal-Allard wrote to NIH Director Francis S. Collins requesting that he immediately make financial arrangements for the promised retirements and provide specific details about NIH’s timeline and strategy for transferring all federally owned chimpanzees from laboratories to sanctuaries.
 
As Jane Goodall has said, “If we do not do something to help these creatures, we make a mockery of the whole concept of justice.”

Worcester City Clerk David Rushford (hog at the municipal trough) and my Christmas gifts …

By Rosalie Tirella
I could write about how I believe Worcester City Councilors Konnie Lukes and Phil Palmeiri are absolutely RIGHT when they say  City Clerk David Rushford needs to get off the city trough and give up all the dough he is making marrying people, as justice of peace in our City Hall – but I won’t. It’s Christmas. 
But I will say this for now since it will come up for a city council vote soon: If Rushford, who makes over $150,000 between his City Clerk job, his Elections Commission job and his private Justice of the Peace business which he is allowed to run out of City Hall  using City Hall space, time etc ,  wants to do the marrying  job on city time using city resources then he should not be allowed to collect the $60 – $100 fee he charges every time he marries a (1) couple. THAT MONEY SHOULD GO TO THE CITY. IT IS A JOB HE IS PERFORMING IN CITY HALL ON CITY TIME.
Doesn’t the guy make enough money? Hasn’t he hogged three jobs all to himself? Does he need to be the justice of peace from hell? I pity his poor clerks this holiday season. They are working for a prima donna – and can’t utter a peeep.
SO: Let’s take Rushford’s windfall – which Rushford won’t disclose to the public (thousands of dollars) – and use his justice of the peace fees to open up a city branch library or run a program for city kids. We hope Worcester follows Boston, whose city coucilors are also pushing for the same reform, when it comes to keeping the “marrying” fees. Let’s hold our city leaders feet to the fire so they do the right thing.
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Here’s my Christmas gift … I read this in the NYTimes recently.  
 InCity Times has been railing against using chimps for medical experiments (most researchers don’t need them to do their research). We wrote story after story about the issue. And now finally – progress.
 Also,  Congress is moving to ban exotic animals in cirucuses.  California is always ahead of the curve – great op/ed in LA Times:
This is exactly what ICTimes has been pushing for …  for YEARS!
Hooray!
So things like this never happen again: Ringling Bros was fined big time for animal abuse/neglect. One violation: Carting away tiger shit in a wheel barrow and then using the same  wheelbarrow to bring the big cats their food.
Pathetic.

Will President Obama allow 60-year-old space program veterans to retire?

By Ingrid Newkirk

New Mexico’s Governor Richardson met with National Institutes of Health (NIH) officials recently in a last-ditch effort to stop NIH from moving 202 “retired” chimpanzees out of Holloman Air Force base and back into invasive experiments. NIH is moving swiftly to transfer the chimpanzees into facilities so substandard that caging conditions within them violate not only everything that we have come to know about what chimpanzees require but also federal law itself. Some of the animals are 60 years old; some are left over from the space program. Gov. Richardson’s visit came on the heels of petitions and pleas by everyone from physicians, veterinarians and primatologists to actors such as Gene Hackman, all of which have been ignored.

It was only a week earlier that Time magazine’s cover story asked the question, “What’s on animals’ minds?” Fifteen years before, as Dr. Jane Goodall mulled over the complex relationships within chimpanzee families, Time had asked, “Do animals think?” Now the question is “What do animals think?” In the case of chimpanzees, who have been taught to use sign boards and even American Sign Language to communicate with their human captors, they think a lot.

The more pressing question is now “What is NIH thinking?” And the answer isn’t befitting our nation’s level of awareness about animals and its commitment to their protection.

In 2001, the U.S. Congress recognized that chimpanzees should be retired from experimentation. “Retirement” has not meant a beachfront condo or a return to the Gombe. Charities have managed to wrest away some chimpanzees, rehabilitate them from a life that, in some cases, consisted of 34 years on a concrete bench in a tiny cell or two decades in a steel cage barely any bigger than the animal’s body, and put them in group care. Continue reading Will President Obama allow 60-year-old space program veterans to retire?