Friday, October 2, 2009

Chimpanzees Suffer Psychologically Like Humans

Dear NEAVS Board, Project R&R Advisory Board, Friends and Supporters:

I wanted to let you know about the press release which went out nationwide yesterday regarding NEAVS/Project R&R’s latest paper, Developmental Context Effects on Bicultural Post-Trauma Self Repair in Chimpanzees:

I co-authored this study along with psychologist G.A. Bradshaw, Ph.D., Ph.D., Lorin Lindner, Ph.D., NEAVS vice president, and Gloria Grow, Fauna sanctuary director and Project R&R co-chair. Published in the September issue, Vol 45(5), of the American Psychological Association journal Developmental Psychology, the paper examines the case histories of Billy Jo, Tom, and Regis – all of whom, as you know, were used in research before being rescued into sanctuary by Fauna. The paper underscores the ethical implications of cross-fostering nonhuman primates and their use in research.

Along with our previous psychology paper, Building an Inner Sanctuary: Complex PTSD in Chimpanzees, published in the Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, 9(1), 9-34, this study provides clear evidence of how cruel and indefensible laboratory confinement and use is and how it leads to severe and lasting emotional trauma – documentation that is critical in our case to lawmakers and the public.

Post-Trauma Self Repair is our latest installment to our growing body of work that challenges the science, ethics, and economics that surround the use of chimpanzees in research. Currently we are working on an economic paper as well as one on their use in hepatitis research – the main area in which researchers continue to try to justify the use of chimpanzees. For the sake of your time, I have attached an abstract of the current paper.

I thank each of you for your invaluable contributions to our work, and for helping us hasten the day when all chimpanzees have been released from U.S. laboratories into sanctuary. As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or comments.


Theo signature casual.TIF

Theodora Capaldo, Ed.D.

New England Anti-Vivisection Society
Project R&R: Release and Restitution for Chimpanzees in U.S. Laboratories

BOSTON, Sept. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A recent study documents the severe emotional trauma chimpanzees suffer as a result of laboratory use and confinement. “Developmental Context Effects on Bicultural Post-Trauma Self Repair in Chimpanzees” was published in the September issue, Vol. 45 (5), of the American Psychological Association journal Developmental Psychology.

Psychologists G.A. Bradshaw, Ph.D., Ph.D., Theodora Capaldo, Ed.D., Lorin Lindner, Ph.D., and Gloria Grow, Fauna sanctuary director, examined the case histories of three chimpanzees -- Billy Jo, Tom, and Regis -- all used in research before rescue into sanctuary. The study underscores the ethical implications of cross-fostering nonhuman primates and their use in research.

Says Dr. Capaldo, president of the New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS)/Project R&R: “A federal bill to end the use of chimpanzees in research (the Great Ape Protection Act, H.R. 1326) has been introduced. Studies like ours expose the reality of what it is like for approximately 1000 chimpanzees languishing in U.S. labs. Chimpanzee research must stop if we are to end the suffering caused by decisions -- both scientifically flawed and ethically unjustifiable -- to use them as living test tubes.”

Billy Jo lived like a human child from infancy to his teenage years when he was sent to a lab. He spent his next fourteen years alone in a 5’X5’X7’ cage, enduring hundreds of procedures. He was rescued into sanctuary at age 29 and died only 8 years later.

Tom’s family was killed in order to capture him in Africa. He spent decades in three different labs undergoing multiple procedures including 369 “knockdowns” -- anesthesia by dart gun. Every morning, Tom gags uncontrollably -- the result of repeated intubations.

Regis, born in a lab, was only 2 years old when he was treated for his first stress-related injury -- he had chewed his finger nail completely off. Regis, fearful if left alone, suffers severe anxiety attacks in which he nearly stops breathing.

The chimpanzees’ symptoms are consistent with traumatic stress, depression, and other psychological conditions. “Post-Trauma Self Repair in Chimpanzees” follows “Building an Inner Sanctuary: Complex PTSD in Chimpanzees” (published April 2008 in the Journal of Trauma and Dissociation), which represented the first time human psychiatric symptoms and diagnoses were applied to chimpanzees, demonstrating that psychological suffering crosses species lines. Together, the papers provide irrefutable arguments to the growing ethical imperative to end the use of chimpanzees in U.S. research.

CONTACT: Karen Smith, NEAVS, 617-523-6020, 617-413-0611,

Paper Summary

Developmental Context Effects on Bicultural Post-Trauma Self Repair in Chimpanzees

Bradshaw, G.A., Capaldo, T., Lindner, L., & Grow, G. (2009)Developmental Context Effects on Bicultural Post-Trauma Self Repair in Chimpanzees. Developmental Psychology, Vol. 45(5), 1376-1388

To examine, through clinical case studies, post-trauma self-repair of chimpanzees who now reside in sanctuary. Each of the chimpanzees -- Tom, Regis and Billy -- represented one of three developmental histories: born and reared for some time in the wild by his biological mother (Tom); born and reared in a lab in a peer group without adult chimpanzees (Regis); and reared by humans as a human (Billy). All were subsequently used as biomedical subjects.


• Chimpanzees subjected to laboratory confinement and biomedical research and testing exhibit trauma-induced psychological symptoms.

• Cross-fostered chimpanzees also contend with an identity crisis and the enhanced vulnerability and compounded trauma this presents.

• Cross-fostered chimpanzees show symptoms of identity confusion and attachment disorder peculiar to their early developmental history:
- compromised ability to socialize with other chimpanzees;
- dominant behavioral traits reflective of human culture;
- a preference to socialize with humans rather than other chimpanzees; and
- symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of depression

• The study raises serious ethical implications for the practice of cross-fostering chimpanzees and for their use in laboratory research.

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