Burr Introduces Chimpanzee Protection Bill

Legislation would protect retired chimpanzees in sanctuary

U.S. Senator Richard Burr today introduced the Chimp Haven is Home Act with Senators David Vitter (R-Louisiana) and Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana). The act would improve the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection Act of 2000 (CHIMP Act) which established Chimp Haven in Keithville, Louisiana for chimpanzees no longer needed for research. Burr's legislation would prevent the National Institutes of Health from removing retired chimpanzees from the sanctuary for research purposes. Chimpanzees are currently evaluated based on their health status and carefully selected for retirement from facilities where the chimp population surpasses current research needs.

"Chimp Haven provides sanctuary to over one hundred chimps, many of which have been exposed to HIV and hepatitis," Burr said. "This legislation will protect those chimps in their retirement and ensure they will no longer be used for research. Providing these animals with permanent protection will give animal welfare groups and other organizations peace of mind in partnering with Chimp Haven," Burr added.

The CHIMP Act of 2000 authorized $30 million for the construction and operation of the chimpanzee sanctuary system and established a public-private partnership in which other organizations help cover the operating costs. The law restricts the research permitted on retired chimpanzees housed in the sanctuary system to only noninvasive behavioral studies and medical studies based on information gathered during the course of normal veterinary care. But the original law does allow chimps to be removed from the sanctuary for further research if specific criteria are met. Burr's legislation would remove that provision, ensuring chimps retired to Chimp Haven remain safely in the sanctuary.