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Push for Faster Chimp Retirement

Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.) is trying to get research chimpanzees move into retirement, Stat News reports. It adds that he has introduced an amendment to an appropriations bill to prod the US National Institutes of Health to retire its chimps more quickly.

In 2013, NIH announced that it would "substantially reduce" its use of research chimps, following a late 2011 Institute of Medicine report that found that the development of new models and technologies made much of chimpanzee-based research unnecessary. The agency planned to move about 300 chimps into retirement, retaining about 50 for certain studies. Then in 2015, NIH said it would retire all its research chimps and move them to sanctuaries as space in them became available.

But as Stat News reports, NIH has said it could take until 2026 for all its chimps to be moved to sanctuaries — currently, about 272 chimps are still in NIH facilities.

In their amendment, Cassidy and co-sponsor Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) would halt NIH funding if they don't move the chimps to retirement more quickly than that — by the end of 2021, it adds. Louisiana, Stat News notes, is home to the sanctuary Chimp Haven. Nature reported earlier this year that the chimp retirement community is full and that some of the NIH chimps may be too old to make the journey there.