Policy Statement on the Long-term Care of Chimpanzees and Their Involvement in Scientific Research

From: ASP Bulletin 20(3):2, 1996

The following statement was reviewed by the Research and Development Committee of the American Society of Primatologists and the Society's Board of Directors. The Board of Directors officially approved this policy statement in its present form on August 12, 1996.

WHEREAS chimpanzees are present in the U.S. in research centers, zoological gardens, and other settings outside their natural habitat; and

WHEREAS large-scale reintroduction of captive-born chimpanzees to natural habitat is not presently feasible nor likely to become feasible in the near future; and

WHEREAS chimpanzees are members of the species most closely related and biologically similar to humans; and

WHEREAS chimpanzees require high quality medical care, secure and complex physical facilities, and social and psychological stimulation; and

WHEREAS much valuable information regarding health and behavior can be learned from chimpanzees of all ages; and

WHEREAS convenience euthanasia is generally considered inappropriate for great apes and maintenance of chimpanzees under appropriate conditions is costly;

The American Society of Primatologists recommends:

  • THAT efforts should be made to provide secure and appropriate environments for captive chimpanzees in zoological exhibits, research facilities, retirement facilities, and sanctuaries;

  • THAT humanely conducted scientific studies of chimpanzees throughout the lifespan should be encouraged and federally supported, especially research on developmental and aging processes and other topics that may contribute not only to the understanding of human health, but also hold promise for improving the health and quality of life of chimpanzees;

  • THAT tissues from chimpanzees should be preserved following death for additional study, including brain tissues in a comparative neurobiology research resource bank similar to those maintained for the study of human neuropathology;

  • THAT regulations be advanced to permit chimpanzees to reside exclusively in accredited zoological parks, accredited research facilities, or other situations that are USDA licensed and subject to regulation under the Animal Welfare Act;

  • THAT additional wild-caught chimpanzees not be imported (in accordance with current policies) and that a national chimpanzee registry be created to assure that the individual identity and location of all chimpanzees is known as a means of improving enforcement of laws and regulations intended to eliminate illegal trade or holding of chimpanzees and other primates.