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WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today sent a letter to the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Francis Collins, condemning the waste of taxpayer dollars and the NIH’s failure to follow federal law by keeping chimpanzees at labs in New Mexico and Texas. The law requires the NIH to transfer these chimpanzees to the national sanctuary, Chimp Haven, in Louisiana.

“Not only is Chimp Haven far better suited to meet the complex needs of chimpanzees previously used in biomedical research, but the cost of care is dramatically cheaper,” Kennedy wrote.

“It appears the NIH is stonewalling Congress and failing to prioritize the welfare of these chimpanzees and the taxpayers’ wishes. The extraordinary conflict of interest and lack of transparency is deeply concerning,” Kennedy continued.

At Chimp Haven, chimpanzees would enjoy a high quality of life and receive superior care from the veterinary and behavioral teams there. Chimpanzees at the sanctuary experience large social groups and a natural environment that stimulates their minds and helps them recover from trauma that resulted from their time spent in laboratories.

Kennedy asked Collins to provide the following information:

  • Projected costs to house chimpanzees at the New Mexico and Texas facilities for the next 10 years;
  • The NIH’s contract with KCCMR to house chimpanzees at the laboratory facility;
  • The NIH’s Veterinary Panel Review Summaries for the chimpanzees located at KCCMR; and
  • The NIH’s plan to meet its own recommendations that captive chimpanzees be maintained in environments appropriate to them.

“I see no valid reason for the NIH to continue housing retired chimpanzees at laboratory facilities where the chimpanzees’ needs are not met and the cost to taxpayers is increasing. The chimpanzees at APF and KCCMR will thrive at Chimp Haven while saving taxpayer dollars,” Kennedy concluded.

The letter received the support of Elisabeth Jennings, executive director of Animal Protection New Mexico.

“Kudos to Senator Kennedy for speaking up for the surviving chimpanzees at laboratories in New Mexico and Texas. NIH director Dr. Francis Collins, has reneged on his commitment to send these chimps to Chimp Haven where the cost of superior care is far less expensive for taxpayers. NIH is ignoring federal law, has betrayed taxpayers and Congress, and forgotten these chimpanzees. After decades of trauma and suffering in biomedical research, these chimps will thrive at Chimp Haven. All sides agree NIH must be held accountable and we’re grateful to Senator Kennedy for his leadership,” said Jennings.

Kennedy’s letter is available here.