Two recent transfers of custody mean that nearly 500 US research chimpanzees will soon be enjoying a leisurely schedule and comfortable living conditions in non-profit sanctuaries.Their freedom to roam and socialize, however, will make them prime subjects for behavioral researchers, and a legal catch means that some chimps could still be recalled for biomedical research.

In mid-September, the Florida-based Center for Captive Chimpanzee Care announced that it would take over the ownership and care of 266 chimps used for biomedical research at the Coulston Foundation in Alamogordo, New Mexico. The notorious Coulston lab, formerly funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was facing bankruptcy and had been cited a number of times for violating the Federal Animal Welfare Act.

Last week, NIH announced that Chimp Haven, Inc. would take possession of another 200 chimps from various NIH-funded research facilities. Chimp Haven will be caring for the government-owned chimps...

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