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!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

186 Chimpanzees remain in New Mexico

The pleas of New Mexico officials like Gov. Bill Richardson, Attorney General Gary King and many others have not gone unheard. Some 186 chimpanzees will remain at the Alamogordo Primate Facility on Holloman Air Force Base for now.

The National Institutes of Health informed Richardson on Thursday the chimps will not be transferred to a San Antonio, Texas, facility until the National Academy of Sciences reviews policies on using chimpanzees in biomedical research.

Richardson spokeswoman Alarie Ray-Garcia said that's expected to postpone the transfer for about two years.

A federal contract with Charles Rivers Laboratories to take care of the animals expires in May. The NIH proposed sending them to Texas to be used in research aimed at finding a hepatitis C vaccine.

Animal welfare activists including world-renowned primatologist Jane Goodall and actor Gene Hackman threw in their support in protesting the move and the transfer has been opposed by, among others, Animal Protection of New Mexico and a Washington, D.C.-based group called Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

Opponents have argued that chimps do not make good research models for the disease, and that transporting the apes to Texas could harm them.

Richardson, who also has expressed concern about the loss of 35 jobs in Alamogordo, wants the NIH to permanently retire the chimps and convert the primate facility into a sanctuary.

The chimps have been free from testing at the APF at Holloman since
2001. Holloman allowed the facility to stay in its confines under the condition no testing would take place there.

Dr. John Pippin, senior medical and research adviser with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, said the decision is hopeful in two ways.

"It's absolutely the right thing to leave those chimpanzees where they are," Pippin said. "Also, now the National Academy of Sciences is going to look, in an objective fashion, as to if chimp research is useful medically."

Not only could the study result in helping the Holloman chimps, it could also result in moving toward a national legislative prohibition of the use of chimps and other great apes in research, Pippin said.

"The decision shows that when good science, determined elected officials and their supporters come together, they can effect even an agency as determined as the NIH," Pippin said. "This is a terrific thing. Being involved in this personally, I think the most heartening thing is the way individuals, scientific interests and elected officials came together in a single voice."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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