From the Animal Welfare Institute
March 18, 2013
Your Voice Is Needed for Chimpanzees
in NIH Research
Lira was a chimpanzee bred for research by FDA. Beginning at age 21 months, she underwent six years of invasive experiments that included hundreds of liver biopsies and knockdowns/”bleeds.” For almost three years she was housed alone. In one of multiple experiments—aimed at hepatitis c therapy—her liver was surgically exposed and then injected in 16–20 sites with hepatitis c construct. She became a chronic self-mutilator, chewing on her body hair, causing baldness. Despite FDA’s warning that liver biopsies had caused muscle and liver damage, the biopsies continued for years. She died young, at 17.
These invasive experiments were conducted by FDA from 1995 through 2001. It is against the backdrop of tragic stories like Lira’s that we now have an opportunity to significantly advance the welfare of chimpanzees in research.
In December 2011, a landmark Institute of Medicine (IOM) report titled Chimpanzees in Biomedical and Behavioral Research: Assessing the Necessity declared that “most current use of chimpanzees for biomedical research is unnecessary.” In response to this report, in January of this year, a Working Group (WG) of the Council of Councils—an advisory body to the National Institutes of Health (NIH)— issued its own report which expanded on the IOM report and included groundbreaking recommendations. The proposed changes are subject to a public comment period before NIH Director Francis Collins makes a final decision.
AWI believes that the WG Report contains watershed recommendations that likely would have prevented what Lira, and countless others, have endured for decades. These recommendations include:
- Promotion (and not merely allowance) of the full range of natural chimpanzee behaviors in an “ethologically appropriate physical and social environment”;
- Provision of housing with at least 1,000 square feet per chimpanzee; vertical climbing space of at least 20 feet; materials so that chimpanzees can build nests every day; and social groups of at least seven;
- Use by the Oversight Committee of a “burden/benefit” analysis to review research proposals; “high” burdens include prolonged separation from social groups, inoculation with infectious agent, and surgical procedures like biopsies;
- An end to breeding of chimpanzees by NIH for any type of research;
- Permanent retirement for the vast majority of NIH-owned chimpanzees into the CHIMP Act federal sanctuary system, with a reserve of 50 chimpanzees held available for research;
Despite these very positive developments, AWI does feel the recommendations could be strengthened in some areas:
- The decision-making process is too ambiguous and could be deleterious to chimpanzees. AWI urges that all the recommendations contain clear-cut criteria (similar to the specified minimum square footage, etc.).
- The largest single bloc of the Oversight Committee would constitute scientists (at least three, with a potential fourth), whereas just two would represent community interests. AWI proposes that the number representing community interests be at least doubled.
As Dr. Mary Lee Jensvold (an AWI board member and director of the Chimpanzee & Human Communication Institute) has pointed out, “acquiescence” and reliance on positive reinforcement techniques (PRT) are problematic. PRT does not work in all chimpanzees, and can be harmful. We join Dr. Jensvold in urging other positive aspects of interactions.
If NIH accepts the WG recommendations, it is unclear who will enforce the new standards. AWI urges that, like the Oversight Committee, enforcement be independent of NIH influence.
What you can do:
Take Action – Please join AWI in urging acceptance of the recommended reforms, and urging that additional actions are taken to strengthen the recommendations.NIH is now accepting comments on the recommendations. This is a historic moment that could radically improve the lives of chimpanzees in research. The public needs to let NIH know it strongly supports these reforms—so let your voice be heard! Please join AWI in urging acceptance of the recommended reforms, and urging that additional actions—as outlined here—are taken to strengthen the recommendations. The comments deadline is Saturday, March 23, 2013 at 11:59:59 PM EDT. Make your comments here. (When you click on the link, you will see a number of comment boxes related to specific subject areas of the recommendations. Should you wish, you may scroll down to the bottom of the page and enter all your comments in the “Overall Comments” section at the very end. Please note, however, that in each comment box, you are limited to 3,000 characters and spaces.)
Please share this AWI eAlert with family, friends, and coworkers, and encourage them to comment too. As always, thank you for your help; your action does make a difference!
P.S. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on the action above and other important animal protection news.
From the Mercy for Animals Website
Breaking News: Illegal Slaughter Operator Pleads Guilty to Felony Animal Cruelty, Sentenced to Jail
The hidden-camera video footage, which led to Celedon’s arrest and conviction, shows animals being violently pinned down, having their throats crudely sawed open, and slowly bleeding to death.
During a raid of Celedon’s illegal slaughter facility, Los Angeles County Animal Control officers seized dozens of sick, injured, and emaciated animals. These animals are now being rehabilitated at The Gentle Barn, a sanctuary for farmed animals in California.
I sometimes really worry that I am not doing enough to promote animal rights and to protect the lives of animals. By being a vegan, they say I contribute to saving about 100 animal lives a year. When you consider the billions of animals lives wasted every year around the world, 100 lives isn’t much. So what keeps me motivated? Well, besides the obvious health benefits, I hope that I can influence even just one other person to give up the cruel lifestyle propagated by eating meat and using animals for our pleasure and profit.
Sometimes it is hard to stay motivated to remain a vegan. I mean, it is not an easy lifestyle. Animal-friendly consumer products like food, clothing, shoes, accessories, shampoo, soap, dish washing liquid, and about a billion other things we use each day are usually much costlier. And when I am not at home, it is sometimes a real challenge finding a place to eat where cruelty isn’t an everyday part of the menu. It can be done, but you have really got to remain dedicated and be able to bear the costs.
So when I begin to get depressed about it all, and when I start to doubt I am really doing any good, I need to encourage myself to keep going. This may seem odd, because one could possibly think that if I truly believed what I write about here, then there should never be any question as to whether I chose the cruelty free lifestyle or not. And there really isn’t a choice for me unless I am forced into a position where I have to make the bad choice because of no other options.
But here is my primary motivational tool when I start to get down about it. I look into the eyes of an animal. Not just a pet, but cows, or goats, or pigs, or sheep, or chickens, at a county “fair” or other place where I can find a living breathing being. Because I guarantee you, if you see beyond the physical form of the animal and see that there is more to them than a hunk of meat on a bun, or a new iPad cover, you’ll discover that there is actually something happening there. Look into the eyes of a captive cow and tell me that he/she is a soulless, non-feeling “thing.” It can’t be done. At least not honestly. And if you can’t find a farm animal to visit, find a stray cat, or a neighborhood dog. Just because they are not raised on factory farms, doesn’t mean they don’t know cruelty.
If you ever doubt that animals are treated cruelty, here is a free film that will convince you otherwise. I use this when I need reinforcing and comforting that what I believe is not only right, but also the right thing to do and fight for. I have only been able to watch this film twice even though I own it. Because I cannot watch this film without being deeply and profoundly saddened. And I cannot watch it without crying and being deeply depressed for a long, long time.
If you can view this film and not be convinced that the way we treat animals is not only inhumane but cruel, unnecessary, and likely our biggest shame, then you have no heart. You are a cold, ruthless, uncaring human being. Those are strong words, I admit. And as melodramatic as it all sounds, I truly feel that if you can support animal cruelty by continuing to eat meat and wear your leather Air Jordan’s, then you likely have no compassion for much else. Yeah, I take it that seriously.
Narrated by Joaquin Phoenix. You cannot honestly watch this movie and continue to support animal cruelty. Not if you are honest with yourself. It takes courage to make it through this whole film. If you can do it without crying, I doubt your humanity. This is the film that made me transition to veganism.
- Two fined for animal cruelty (timesofmalta.com)
- Animal cruelty: SSPCA anger over deer killed in Craigneuk woods (preciousjules1985.wordpress.com)
- Local Groomer Charged with Animal Cruelty (preciousjules1985.wordpress.com)
- North Carolina woman admits animal cruelty for selling sick dog at Hunterdon roadside stand (nj.com)
- Worse case of animal cruelty judge had seen (preciousjules1985.wordpress.com)
- Earthlings (preciousjules1985.wordpress.com)
- Sprakers man charged with felony animal cruelty – Video (preciousjules1985.wordpress.com)