Over a hundred research chimps are set to be rescued and moved to a sanctuary

Chimpanzee research is on the way out in the United States. The latest move in this direction is the announcement that the National Institutes of Health is set to retire 109 chimpanzees (as opposed to io9 chimpanzees — those are other creatures entirely) who are currently being held in Lafayette, Louisiana's New Iberia Research Center (NIRC). The chimps will be moved to Chimp Haven, a federal sanctuary also in Louisiana.

The news is a long time coming. Back in 2010, the NIH made arrangements to return some retired chimps back into research, prompting protests from many animal rights groups, including the New England Anti-Vivisection Society.

Over a hundred research chimps are set to be rescued and moved to a sanctuary

At the same time, an independent report released a year ago stated that there was almost no scientific need or advantage to doing biomedical research on chimps. In response, the NIH finally accepted the report's recommendations and formally retired all chimps this past September.

So the chimps are free and set to hit their retirement sanctuary. From the NEAVS release:

NIH's two-phase plan to get them to sanctuary starts in January when half of the chimpanzees will be moved in small groups to Chimp Haven into available housing and existing social groups as appropriate. This first phase will take about six months. For the second phase, expected to take 12-15 months to complete, approximately $2.3 million in construction funds is needed. NIH has said it will work with Chimp Haven and animal protection organizations to secure all funding.

Sadly, four other chimpanzees were evaluated by both Chimp Haven and New Iberia veterinarians who determined they were too sick for transfer. In failing health, they are permanently protected from use in research. Eight of the chimpanzees are mothers with young offspring who will remain together during the move.

Once again, even another success leaves us with more work to do! The soon-to-be new Chimp Haven residents will almost double the sanctuary's population – but there are still those waiting. Knowing that some 113 of the approximate remaining 488 federally owned chimpanzees currently held in U.S. biomedical labs can soon rest does not allow us to. It is our duty and our labor of love to keep working until all chimpanzees live surrounded by fresh air, sunlight, trees, and all the other comforts an enriched sanctuary life provides. The NIH's decision marks the beginning, not the end, of our goal: to get them all out of labs and safe in sanctuary. NEAVS/Project R&R will continue to vigilantly and effectively work on behalf of all the rest who are counting on us.

More here.

All images via Chimp Haven.