Thursday, July 29, 2010

Group Tries To Stop Alamogordo Chimp Transfers

Advocates Say Chimps Should Remain Retired
A local group said time is running out for chimpanzees living in Alamogordo.

Animal Protection New Mexico is trying to stop the transfer of chimpanzees living in Alamogordo to a testing site in Texas.

The organization said it just learned some of the chimps have already been shipped to Texas and said it is fighting to make sure the rest of the animals stay in Alamogordo.

"There is a battle under way to keep these chimpanzees in New Mexico," said Laura Bonar, with Animal Protection New Mexico. "There is no scientific, ethical or financial reason to send them back into research. Research with chimpanzees has not yielded great benefits for human health."

Animal Protection New Mexico wanted to halt the federal government's plan to transfer about 185 chimpanzees housed at the Alamogordo primate facility on the Holloman Air Force Base to a Texas lab for use in medical research.

The chimps haven't been experimented on since 2001.

"And now the government wants to move them back into invasive research? Even though they've served out country for decades? In fact, the oldest one is 53 and they usually live until 50 so it would be like sending your 100-year-old aunty in research," Bonar said.

Sen. Tom Udall got involved. Udall demanded that the National Institutes of Health explain why the primates are leaving.

Udall said he is concerned once the animals go so will the jobs of those taking care of the chimpanzees.

In a written response, the NIH cited space, cost and resources as motives for the move. There are already 15 chimps in Texas and early next year, the rest are slated to join them.

Action 7 News' calls to NIH were not returned.

Animal Protection New Mexico said New Mexico senators and representatives have the power to stop the transfer. The organization said it wants the chimps to be permanently retired and to be raised in an Alamogordo sanctuary.

Supporters claim the cost would be covered by federal money.

Governor Bill Richardson Supports Efforts to Save Alamogordo

Governor Bill Richardson Supports Efforts to Save Alamogordo Chimpanzees

July 22, 2010

SANTA FE - Governor Bill Richardson today announced his support to
save the 202 chimpanzees at the Alamogordo Primate Facility on
Holloman Air Force Base who may be moved out of state to be used for
invasive research. The Governor sent a letter today to Francis S.
Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, expressing his
concerns for the chimpanzees and the more than 40 jobs that will be
lost if the chimps are moved to Texas.

"This is an urgent situation and I am asking the National Institutes
of Health to permanently retire the 202 chimpanzees at the Alamogordo
Primate Facility so that they may not be used for invasive research.
New Mexico wants to save these chimpanzees who have already given so
much of their lives to the American public as part of medical research
studies," said Governor Bill Richardson.

Governor Richardson in a letter to NIH Director Francis Collins urges
the Institute to permanently retire all of the Alamogordo Primate
Facility chimpanzees, return the 15 chimpanzees that have already been
sent to Texas and convert the Facility into a sanctuary.

"The small community of Alamogordo stands to lose 42 jobs and millions
of federal dollars associated with the care of these chimpanzees
should they be moved to Texas," said Governor Bill Richardson. "There
is a compassionate and prudent alternative to the National Center for
Research Resources' plan and I feel strongly that we must save the

The chimps have been housed at the Alamogordo Primate Facility since
2001 and according to the agreement with Holloman; no research may be
conducted on the chimpanzees while at the Facility. Charles River
Laboratories, which operates the Alamogordo Primate Facility, is
contracted with the National Institutes of Health until May 2011. The
National Health Institute has announced plans to move all of the
chimpanzees to Texas where they will be used for invasive medical
research by early 2011. In recent weeks 15 of the 202 chimpanzees have
been moved to the Southwest National Primate Research Center in Texas.

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