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Moving into Chimp Retirement

Former research chimpanzees are slowly being moved to sanctuaries, the New York Times reports.

A 2011 Institute of Medicine report concluded that invasive research on chimpanzees should cease, except when there are no other alternatives, as it inflicts physical and mental harm on the animals. The US National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins accepted the report's recommendations at the time and began the process of retiring chimps. In 2013, the NIH announced that about 310 research chimps were to retire, keeping 50 on reserve for certain biomedical research studies. "Chimpanzees are very special animals. They are our closest relatives," Collins said at a press conference at the time. "We believe they deserve special consideration."

In 2015, the NIH said it would retire those remaining chimpanzees and move them to sanctuaries. That same year, the US Fish and Wildlife Service deemed all chimps to be endangered.

The Times reports that some critics say the chimps' relocation to sanctuaries has been too slow, though Chimp Haven, a sanctuary in Louisiana where the government chimps are going, and the NIH say the process is now moving more quickly. Chimp Haven has accepted about 14 chimps in the past two months and expects more to arrive by year's end, the Times adds.

It notes that privately owned chimps, such as ones at New Iberia Research Center at University of Louisiana at Lafayette and Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University, are also heading for retirement.