Thanks in large part to a tremendous public outcry, the chimpanzees at the Alamogordo Primate Facility have been kept out of invasive research, at least for now.
McClatchy’s new special report “Chimps: Life in the Lab” gives impressive detail on what chimpanzees in New Mexico have been subjected to. Stories from the series appeared in dozens of newspapers across the country, including locally the Santa Fe New Mexican, Albuquerque Journal and Las Cruces Sun-News.
Excerpt from McClatchy's Some Chimps Never Recover from Stresses of Research:
Lira, a 17-year-old female who recently died, took part in late-1990s hepatitis research. She was cut open, her liver exposed and then directly injected with hepatitis. Eight months later, she was infected again, this time with five needles directly into her liver or spine. More than a year after that, she was infected with hepatitis yet again and underwent liver biopsies every other week for several months to track the disease's progress.
The details of those experiments — which included a tracking number, allowing the identification of the chimp in question as Lira — were published in scientific journals in 2000 and 2002.
But it wasn't until her medical records were released that it became apparent what else was going on at the time of the experiments.
For more than two years, starting when she was four years old, Lira was housed alone, a requirement of the study of which she was a part. During that time, she had "liver and muscle damage from multiple percutaneous liver biopsies." In 2000, her records said she was a "chronic hair plucker" and had large bald areas on her body. In 2001, the records noted she "appears depressed," and said to "continue extra enrichment."
Lira was one of the most recent chimps to die at Alamogordo. Last May, an NIH record said, she experienced "sudden cardiac death" at age 17. That was very young, given that female chimps can easily live into their 30s or 40s. Lira's body was weak, and had signs of multiple bite wounds. Her "liver was enlarged" and her spleen "enlarged and friable." Her brainstem "appeared enlarged and swollen with areas of liquefaction."
Lira’s is one of many stories exposed in the in-depth McClatchy report that reveals cruelty and waste of our tax dollars. Please watch the videos and share this series with friends and local leaders who may have questions on what life is like for chimps in a lab: mcclatchydc.com/chimps
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) is taking comments on their study, requested by the National Institutes of Health, investigating the use of chimpanzees in biomedical and behavioral research. You can sign up for the chimp research listserv to receive email updates from the IOM on this topic.
Please make your comments TODAY for the Alamogordo Primate Facility chimpanzees. Visit this link where you may submit your own comments, or copy and paste the comments below. **Make sure to submit your email address and signature.
To the Institute of Medicine:
Thank you for taking on the important task to determine the extent of the continued need for invasive research on chimpanzees and the merits of alternative methods.
As you know, it has been decades since chimpanzees were bred for use in AIDS research, the United States has established a National Chimpanzee Sanctuary System and the federal government has placed a moratorium on breeding more chimpanzees for research due to the great financial and ethical cost.
The surviving Alamogordo Primate Facility (APF) chimpanzees in New Mexico have already endured eras of crash-testing, toxicology testing, trauma testing and infectious disease testing; some have lived through decades of solitary confinement and are missing lobes of their livers. Flo is the oldest APF chimp at 53, but chimps who are much younger die after suffering for years, like Lira. You can read excerpts from her medical records at: www.mcclatchydc.com/chimps.
Thank you for taking on this ambitious project, which will impact not only hundreds of chimpanzees who have suffered tremendously, but also millions of Americans who deserve to be assured that tax dollars are spent on humane and effective science.