Comedian Ricky Gervais Asks NIH to Return Chimpanzees to Alamogordo

The Physicians Committee
NEWS RELEASE April 15, 2011
Comedian Ricky Gervais Asks NIH to Return Chimpanzees to Alamogordo
Comedian Ricky Gervais Asks NIH to Return Chimpanzees to Alamogordo

Outspoken comedian Ricky Gervais says there’s nothing funny about the U.S. federal government’s backing for chimpanzee experimentation. He recently wrote to Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institutes of Health, urging him to help save 14 chimpanzees recently moved to a Texas research laboratory for use in painful experiments:

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.
National Institutes of Health
9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20892

Dear Dr. Collins,

I'm writing to ask you to take emergency action on behalf of 14 chimpanzees recently moved by the U.S. federal government to a controversial Texas laboratory for use in invasive experiments.

These amazingly intelligent animals had been used in testing for many years, but that had ended and they were peacefully retired in New Mexico. Then the government abruptly decided to put them back into laboratory cages at Texas Biomed. These individuals have already endured tremendous suffering, and I urge you to allow them to spend the rest of their lives in peace.

Scientists around the world are deeply concerned about the ethical and scientific problems associated with using humankind's closest living genetic relatives in painful and invasive experiments. Over the past few decades, we've learned that chimpanzees are astonishingly smart and deeply sensitive beings. That is a key reason why the United Kingdom banned licenses for experiments on chimpanzees more than a decade ago. Since then, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Sweden, Austria, Belgium, and other nations have also ended invasive chimpanzee experiments.

I know that the U.S. federal government is currently taking a hard look at the moral and scientific problems associated with chimpanzee experiments. In the meantime, it does not seem right to leave these 14 chimpanzees at Texas Biomed, where they will continue to be used in invasive experiments.

These animals deserve better. Please do all you can to protect them from further experimentation and move them back to New Mexico. Thank you for your attention to this serious matter.


Ricky Gervais

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.

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