Recently on CNN, John Zarella visited chimps that had been in labs and were to be moved to a sanctuary.
The program said the Disney film "Chimpanzee," just out last week, showed the cute creatures in the wild acting a lot like us. (If you see the movie by April 26, part of proceeds go to the great Jane Goodall to help save chimps.) It is a wonderful movie.
But thousands of chimpanzees have been used in research in labs and are still cooped up in cages. There is a debate in Congress whether chimps should endure that kind of captivity. This bill would ban invasive research using chimps.
Thousands of chimps were used for testing on toxicity of hairspray and bio-medical drugs, HIV virus, and before that, for space travel. In labs they are knocked out with anesthesia guns and forced to endure injections and biopsies.
Zarella followed a group of chimps housed at Coultston Foundation (which used to be a chimp lab), but he lost his federal funding due to abuse of chimps. Three were literally baked to death in 140-degree temperatures. He faced bankruptcy and then sold some of his chimps to Save the Chimps Sanctuary. Ten to 12 chimps at a time have been moved to this great sanctuary at a time when funding would allow. They had never seen grass or trees or sunshine before...
Every chimp has its own personality before traveling to the sanctuary, so Save the Chimps opened up the walls of the prior labs so chimps could visit each other. Some are still there waiting to be moved, and there are still many in labs because the bill has not yet passed. Many chimps sit in limbo in cages waiting for the bills to pass, costing $30 million to sit in cages.
There are better ways to conduct research than using chimps. For example, they have found they can insert a human gene in a mouse, and there are many ways to use non-animal models all together.
Chimps have not proven useful for research for humans. Although they have 98 percent human DNA, they are different in ways that testing on them does not work for humans.
When the chimps reached the sanctuary, they were greeted by chimp friends they knew with hugs. With fresh air and sunshine and grass to walk on, they are the lucky ones. But many are still in these horrible labs.