The Little Rock Zoo

.The Little Rock Zoo needs to step up and care for the animals better! Please read the several artciles here with deaths, sickness and a bald chimp!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

International Bans on Chimpanzee Research

Countries* banning or limiting chimpanzee research
Belgium Ban on great ape research, 2008
Balearic Islands Resolution granting chimps legal rights, 2007
Austria Ban on chimpanzee research, 2006
Japan Strong moratorium on chimps research, 2006
Australia Policy statement limiting chimps research, 2003
Sweden Ban on chimpanzee research, 2003
Netherlands Ban on chimpanzee research, 2002
New Zealand Ban on chimpanzee research, 2000
United Kingdom Ban on licenses for chimpanzee research, 1997

There is a growing awareness around the world that experimenting on chimpanzees is wrong. Belgium, Balearic Islands, Japan, Austria, Australia, Sweden, the Netherlands, New Zealand and United Kingdom, have banned or severely limited experiments on great apes. The United States is the last remaining large-scale user of chimpanzees for research.

A growing movement

In 2000, New Zealand became the first nation to officially ban research on chimpanzees. The United Kingdom had already banned new licenses for such research in 1997. The Netherlands and Sweden followed New Zealand’s lead with bans in 2002 and 2003, respectively. In December 2005, the Austrian Parliament unanimously passed an amendment to forbid research on all nonhuman apes, which includes gibbons as well as chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans, and gorillas. Then in 2006, Japan placed a strong moratorium on chimpanzee research.

Four of these countries – the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Austria – are member states in the European Union, which does not have an EU wide ban on testing chimpanzees and other great apes as of yet. However, little to no chimpanzee testing occurs within its borders, and the last laboratory using chimpanzees in research in Western Europe stopped in 2004 under order from the Dutch government.(1) Renewed attention has been placed on revising the EU’s laboratory animal welfare laws - Directive EC86/609/EEC. Specific proposed revisions include a ban on the use of great apes and ‘wild-caught’ monkeys in research, as well as a call towards ending the overall use of nonhuman primates in experiments. On November 5, 2008, the European Commission adopted the proposal for review. According to their website:

“The proposal will be adopted through the co-decision procedure and now awaits transmission to the European Parliament and the Council for their official positions on the draft.”



As of December 2008, Belgium joined the growing list of countries that have banned research on great apes. Although no experiments involving great apes have occurred in Belgium for a number of years, there were no official laws against their use in research. The new law now officially bans their use but does have an exemption clause that states:

Any exemption request must first be submitted to the Minister for Public Health and the Minister responsible for Animal Welfare for approval, after a favourable opinion from the Ethics Committee and a favourable opinion from the CITES scientific committee which advises the Minister on the trade in protected species. This exemption is only granted in exceptional circumstances and only if the experiment is aimed at research to maintain the species in question or biomedical objectives of essential importance to the species concerned if the species concerned is the only one that appears to be suitable for that objective.

While in other countries (e.g. Austria, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom), experiments on great apes are unconditionally banned, the Belgium ban is expected to be maintained since there has been no research on great apes in the country for many years. (27)

Balearic Islands

The Parliament of the Balearic Islands, one of the Autonomous Communities of Spain, recently announced its approval of a resolution to grant legal rights to great apes. This resolution has also been presented to the Spanish Government. The resolution “recognizes basic legal protections supported by biological and scientific evidence…” (24)


In December 2005, Austria amended its animal protection laws to forbid experiments on chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas. (3) Although those experiments are currently neither requested nor approved in Austria, the Education, Science, and Culture Minister, Elisabeth Gehrer, stated that:

Great apes are the animals that are most closely related to humans. It is of particular concern for me that there is this explicit prohibition. This will ensure that no such animal experiments will be carried out in the future either. (4)
— Austrian Education, Science, and Culture Minister Elisabeth Gehrer


In 2006, Japan placed an unofficial ban on invasive chimpanzee research. According to the Japanese Anti-Vivisection Association (JAVA), an agreement to end invasive experiments on chimpanzees was reached between primate researchers many who are members of the Support for African/Asian Great Apes (SAGA) and the Sanwa Kagaku Kenkyusho Co. pharmaceutical company. Management of the company’s Kumamoto Primate Park was transferred to the Kyoto University Wildlife Research Center, and in 2007, the park was renamed the Chimpanzee Sanctuary Uto. The sanctuary is located in the Kumamoto Prefecture and is home to 72 chimpanzees.

Under the Uto sanctuary guidelines, “comprehensive studies and experimental research” involving the chimpanzees is allowed. However, “no invasive medical pharmaceutical science and physiological experiments should be conducted, and also no deeds which would possibly bring about any significant behaviorally and psychologically changes to the chimpanzees from the behavior and psychology seen in the chimpanzees who are in their native habitat should be implemented.” (15)

Stated by SAGA member and Director of the Primate Research Institute at Kyoto University, Dr. Tetsuro Matsuzawa, “I understand that invasive chimpanzee experiments have ceased, so no such experiments are being conducted any more at present in Japan.” As defined by SAGA, the word non-invasive “refers to treatment that causes irreversible deficits of normal function. In short, illegal or non-ethical treatment prohibited in the case of human subjects is to be likewise prohibited in the great apes.” (16) JAVA reports there are roughly 343 chimpanzees living in 54 different facilities in Japan the majority of which are zoos.


The Policy on the Care and Use of Non-Human Primates for Scientific Purposes put forth by the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia states:

The species of great ape, gorilla, orangutan, chimpanzee and bonobo, are closely related to humans in evolution. Proposals to AECs requesting the use of great apes for scientific purposes may pose particular concerns.

Great apes may only be used for scientific purposes if the following conditions are met:

  • Resources, including staff and housing, are available to ensure high standards of care for the animals
  • The use would potentially benefit the individual animal and the species to which the animal belongs
  • The potential benefits of the scientific knowledge gained will outweigh harm to the animal (23)


In 2003, Sweden banned the use of all nonhuman apes in research as part of a binding regulation passed by the Swedish Board of Agriculture and the National Board for Laboratory Animals. Under the Swedish Animal Protection Law (1988:534), the Animal Protection regulation (1988:539) states that “the Swedish Board of Agriculture may produce provisions for conditions and limitations for the breeding and use of laboratory animals. The Provisions regulating use of non-human primates are called DFS 2004:4 (L 55).” (20) According to the new regulation, Swedish researchers will only be allowed to carry out non-invasive behavioral studies involving nonhuman apes. Per-Anders Sv√§rd, campaign manager at Animal Rights Sweden, believed this was a positive step forward for Sweden. He states:

“The decision marks an important shift in official policy, since it implicitly recognizes the individual moral worth of primates. Hopefully, the ban can be seen as a first step towards extending moral and legal rights to millions of other animals suffering in experiments.” (21)

According to the September 2005 responses of Animal Rights Sweden to a survey conducted by the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments, no great apes are used for research in Sweden, and there are no breeding facilities for primates in research in the country. (22)

The Netherlands

In 2002, the Dutch government decided to prohibit future testing on chimpanzees after the end of trials already in progress. The last European laboratory to use chimpanzees in experiments was the Biomedical Primate Research Centre (BPRC) in Rijswijk, Netherlands, and the Dutch Parliament voted unanimously to have BPRC’s chimpanzee population released into retirement. Since BPRC obtains funding from the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science, the Dutch government played a crucial role in the decision-making and ultimately agreed to provide funding for the retirement of BPRC’s chimpanzee population – numbering more than 100 – based on building expenses and costs of lifetime care. (9)

BPRC’s website states that, “In close consultation with the Dutch government BPRC has stopped all research with chimpanzees in 2004.” (10) This is because prior to ending chimpanzee research, BPRC ran one final test on six young chimpanzees, and infected them with hepatitis C, an incurable disease. Despite the national ban, these six chimpanzees were subjected to research and languished in BPRC’s research facilities until their retirement. (11)

In September 2006, 28 chimpanzees infected with HIV and Hepatitis C were transferred from the BPRC to the Stichting AAP’s Sanctuary for Exotic Animals (AAP) in Almere, The Netherlands. The chimpanzees reside in a Special Care Unit that is part of AAP’s new care-for-life facility called the Chimpanzee Complex. 52 non-infected chimpanzees were transferred to de Beekse Bergen – a safari park in The Netherlands.(12) The remaining BPRC chimpanzees were allocated to various zoos throughout and the BPRC reported to no longer have any chimpanzees as of October 2007. (13)

The ban and BPRC closure were victories for the People Against Chimpanzee Experiments (PACE) and the Coalition to End Experiments on Chimpanzees in Europe (CEECE), a coalition of Dutch and British animal protection groups, which had launched a public awareness campaign. (14)

AAP is a sanctuary active in the Netherlands and Spain and provides shelter for confiscated primates and abandoned pets. Read more about AAP here.

New Zealand

[New Zealand’s ban on great ape research] may be a small step forward for the great apes, but it is nevertheless historic the first time a parliament has voted in favor of changing the status of a group of animals so dramatically that the animal cannot be treated as a research tool….
— Peter Singer,
co-founder of the Great Ape Project

In October 1999, the New Zealand Parliament passed into law an amendment to their Animal Welfare Act, which banned the use of nonhuman hominids in research, testing, and teaching, except where such uses are in the best interests of the nonhuman hominid. (25) The Act defines a “nonhuman hominid” as “any non-human member of the family Hominidae, being a gorilla, chimpanzee, bonobo or orangutan.” (17) The law went into effect January 2000.

Read the text of New Zealand’s amendment banning research on nonhuman hominids here.

In announcing the ban, New Zealand’s Minister for Food, Fibre, Biosecurity, and Border Control, the Honorable John Luxton, announced that the new Act would take the “small but nevertheless important step” of banning harmful experimentation on nonhuman hominids. This legislation appears to be the “first legislation in the world to explicitly prohibit harmful research and testing on other hominids,” and may send a “moral message to other nations.” (18)

The ban resulted primarily from a campaign by the New Zealand branch of the Great Ape Project (GAP), which was co-founded by Peter Singer, a professor at Princeton and a pioneer in animal rights philosophy. GAP is dedicated to “extending some legal rights to the great apes and thus greater protection from harm.” (19)

United Kingdom

In 1997, the United Kingdom announced a policy to no longer grant licenses for research involving great apes. At the time, the British Home Secretary Jack Straw said:

“This is a matter of morality. The cognitive and behavioural characteristics and qualities of these animals mean it is unethical to treat them as expendable for research.”
— Jack Straw British Home Secretary

The U.K. however continues to use other primates for research. The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) has released several reports on primate experimentation, with the most recent being: Ending Primate Experiments – Meeting the Challenge ( (6)
A consortium of four research councils and organizations “established a working group to examine the scientific basis for recent, current and future use of nonhuman primates within biological and medical research.” (7) The study, “The use of non-human primates in research,” was chaired by University of Oxford genetics expert Sir David Weatherall. It was released in December 2006 and involved “a rigorous scientific assessment of whether there are alternatives to using non-human primates in research.” (8)


While there is no formalized ban in Canada, recent investigations suggest that no chimpanzees are currently being used in Canadian research. However, complete information is not available.

In the absence of a country-wide ban, it is possible that private companies may be using chimpanzees or that the use of biological samples from U.S. chimpanzees could be more prevalent than known. According to a 2008 Canwest [Canadian] News Service article, “Chimp depiction angers famed scientist Goodall,” by Margaret Munro, “There is no known government-funded chimp research in Canada, but…information about the private sector is hard to obtain. Environment Canada administers the trade of endangered species, but the department’s media relations department could not provide any information on the number of chimpanzees in Canada.”(25) An earlier 1998 Reuters article noted that, “Medical research using chimpanzees is not prohibited in Canada but the Canadian Council on Animal Welfare, a national peer review agency on the use of animals in research, teaching and testing, says they are not currently being used there.”(26)

Project R&R’s investigations of Canadian research, including NIH funding to Canada (as well as information from Canadian animal protection groups) turned up only two recent chimpanzee-related studies. Click here to read protocols that use a virus derived from chimpanzees and therefore may or may not involve the use of blood and/or other tissue samples collected from chimpanzees in the U.S.

Project R&R works for the release and restitution of all chimpanzees in U.S. labs. In solidarity with U.S. efforts, organizations and individuals from countries around the globe can help. Please go to Sign the Petition to End Chimpanzee Research page to sign on and show your support.

Any accurate information on research involving chimpanzees throughout the world is needed. Please send your information to

Last revised: 12/18/08


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