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Although chimp research is coming to a slow end, hundreds are still in labs. A tiny Washington sanctuary is helping them.

As chimpanzee research in the United States enters its final chapter. There are chimps that need homes, chimps that deserve a comfortable life for the rest of their lives. It’s a moral or ethical obligation that we as humankind have

Editor The ARK Center

SANDI DOUGHTON: ‘Experiments on mankind’s closest relative effectively ended three years ago and, for the first time, more chimpanzees live in sanctuaries than laboratories. The National Institutes of Health will retire all but the frailest of its 257 remaining chimps to a federally funded sanctuary in Louisiana within the next several years. But another 200 or so remain in private research facilities, some awaiting space in sanctuaries, others with their fates undecided…

Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest owes its existence 80 miles southeast of Seattle and 1,500 miles from the closest chimp-research lab to two visionaries: a laid-off biotech worker who nearly bankrupted himself to realize a dream, and a scientist whose pioneering sign-language experiments with chimps brought a generation of budding primatologists to Central Washington University in nearby Ellensburg.

It recently purchased more land, bringing their total to 90 acres. A new addition includes a veterinary clinic and space for chimps to acclimate and get acquainted. The sanctuary hopes to break ground in the spring on a second indoor-outdoor complex… As chimpanzee research in the United States enters its final chapter… There are chimps that need homes, chimps that deserve a comfortable life for the rest of their lives… It’s a moral or ethical obligation that we as humankind have….

Unlike Chimp Haven in Louisiana, which gets federal money to care for government-owned chimps, private sanctuaries rely on donors and volunteers. With a staff of six and an annual budget of about $450,000, the Cle Elum sanctuary needs to raise $500,000 to complete its expansion. They’re in discussions with at least one chimp facility, but won’t say which.

Though small, Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest is well-respected and could offer a good alternative for chimps still owned by breeders or roadside zoos, or some of the 46 privately owned research apes at Yerkes National Primate Center in Georgia, says primate expert Stephen Ross, director of Project ChimpCARE, which tracks chimps in the United States’. SOURCE…

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