Rosie was chemically immobilized 99 times by laboratory workers. Now the 29-year-old chimpanzee, who spent years in laboratory cages before being granted a reprieve from testing, is again suffering invasive procedures. Last summer, the federal government shipped Rosie and 13 other chimpanzees to a controversial laboratory in San Antonio, Texas.
Nearly 200 chimpanzees remain exempt from research in Alamogordo, N.M., thanks to the efforts of PCRM, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, and others. But the 14 chimpanzees transferred to Texas are slated for infectious disease experiments.
In response, PCRM filed a legal complaint with the office of Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in early March, holding that NIH acted unlawfully when it transferred these chimpanzees to the Texas Biomedical Research Institute for use in invasive experiments.
PCRM’s complaint calls for the chimpanzees to be returned to retirement in Alamogordo. Moving the chimpanzees was arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of agency discretion, and in violation of the federal Administrative Procedure Act, according to the 15 experts filing the complaint.
The 14 chimpanzees have not been used in experiments for about a decade and some suffer from chronic conditions related to old age, captivity, and past use in experiments, including severe heart disease, liver disease, viral infections, and diabetes. Since their move to the Texas research laboratory, Rosie and her companions have already been subjected to multiple liver biopsies and other procedures that require chemical immobilization.
The Texas facility houses both a primate center and a biosafety level 4 laboratory and conducts primate experiments involving bioterrorism agents and other deadly pathogens, including the Ebola virus and anthrax. In addition, the facility has a poor record of animal care.
A few months after the 14 were transferred, the 186 chimpanzees remaining in New Mexico were granted a reprieve from transfer and further experimentation while the Institute of Medicine conducts an in-depth analysis of the use of chimpanzees in experiments. This process could lead to the United States joining other developed nations in ending experiments on chimpanzees.