In news that may relieve and delight some, the U.S. Government has announced via the National Institutes of Health that it is retiring over 300 chimpanzees that were used for medical research. Fifty more will remain on hold for some time, should the government see fit that they return to service.
This change is not just limited to government research. No private companies will be able to do research using chimps.
There are several reasons for this. One is that researchers believe that we have learned all we can from the chimp and that other options (other living forms) can be used just as well. Another is the humane factor. Chimps and humans are very similar in terms of DNA. It just doesn't sit well with many people that experiments are performed on creatures so similar to us.
Millions of animals are involved in medical testing every year. According to the website Statisticbrain.com, rabbits are the animals most experimented upon (more than 245,000) every year, followed by hamsters (over 175,000). Even man's best friend has relatively large numbers -- more than 66,000 per year. Primates account for over 57,000 specimens in research.
While many of these animals are used for medical research, many are also used to test in non-medical areas like cosmetics, perfumes and lotions. Due to consumer pressure and/or the beliefs of the companies themselves, some cosmetic companies have stopped animal testing and market that fact quite heavily.
About 31 percent of animals used in experiments are euthanized in order for them to avoid feeling pain. More than 19 million are killed every year as a result of experimentation. More than 13 million of these are cats and dogs.
Other products tested on animals include bleach, poisons, alcohol and products used for cars.
To find cosmetic companies that do not test on animals, click here: http://www.leapingbunny.org/shopping.php/
Yahoo.com's story about the NIH's decision also talks about where these chimps will go now that they have been retired. This may be problematic.
Because it's expensive to take care of chimps, the cost of their retirement will be high.