February 21, 2006

University Ends Chimp Research, Retires Animals

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Ohio State University said on Tuesday it was closing its chimpanzee research program and sending its remaining nine chimps to a refuge where they will no longer be used for research.

The university said it was following the lead of other institutions that have scaled back research using chimpanzees, the closest genetic relative of human beings.

"While we are rightfully proud of the outstanding research that has evolved from Ohio State's primate cognition project in the last decade or so, we believe the time is now right to move the animals to safer quarters where they can live out their lives in peace," said Robert McGrath, senior vice president for research at the university.

"In recent years, research institutions across the country -- including the Air Force, the National Institutes of Health and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration -- have elected to reduce the amount of primate research they conduct and retire many of their animals," the university added in a statement.

"That has made locating an appropriate long-term home for the animals a more difficult task for Ohio State." It said it took four years to find an appropriate home for the chimpanzees in San Antonio, Texas.

"Ohio State is paying for construction of that facility, for medical exams and shipping, and providing an endowment to support the animals," it said.

The chimpanzees, who live in a family-like group, will be taken to Primarily Primates, Inc., which is north of San Antonio.

"This sanctuary is one of the best in the country for chimpanzees and offers these animals a much better environment than we are able to provide at this time. The staff there is well-respected nationally and completely dedicated to the health and well-being of the animals in their care," said William Yonushonis, director of the Office of Laboratory Animal Resources at OSU.