The National Institutes of Health has announced it will permanently stop breeding government-owned research chimpanzees, citing the cost of caring for chimps over their lifetime. Animal rights activists praised the decision, but some scientists warned there may be a significant -- and negative -- effect on biomedical research.According to a statement from the NIH's National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), the agency "acknowledges the continuing importance of chimpanzees to biomedical research," but can no longer justify the expense of caring for the animals.Of the approximately 1,000 research chimps in the United States, roughly half are owned or supported by NCRR. The agency has not supported the breeding of those chimps since a temporary moratorium was established in 1995. The new decision makes the breeding moratorium permanent. However, the NCRR will continue to support the existing chimps in its care. Those animals are housed at four facilities: Yerkes National Primate Research...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?