12.14.07

Senate Passes Burr’s Chimpanzee Protection Bill

Legislation would protect retired chimpanzees in sanctuary

The Senate approved Senator Richard Burr's chimpanzee protection bill, S.1916. The legislation amends the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection Act of 2000 (CHIMP Act) which established Chimp Haven in Keithville, Louisiana. The haven was created to house chimpanzees retired from federally-sponsored research labs. The measure precludes the National Institutes of Health from using retired chimpanzees for further medical research. Animals are chosen for retirement based upon research needs and their health status. The bill passed the Senate on Thursday evening.

"I am pleased the Senate passed this bill," Burr said. "Chimp Haven is home to over a hundred chimps which have furthered American medical knowledge. These animals deserve permanent protection and this bill will ensure retired chimps will no longer be called back for additional research," Burr added.

Dr. Jane Goodall, who has spent much of her life studying chimpanzees, was pleased to see this legislation pass the Senate. "I want to send a huge thank you to Senator Burr for his leadership on this issue and his compassionate view of our responsibility toward these thinking, feeling creatures," said Dr. Goodall, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute.

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.