Ebola Experiments at Alamogordo Chimpanzees’ New Lab
A PCRM legal complaint says the National Institutes of Health acted unlawfully when it transferred chimpanzees to Texas Biomed. The laboratory endorses primate use for studies involving the Ebola and Marburg viruses.
The petition says the 14 chimpanzees should be immediately returned to their former home, a nonresearch facility in Alamogordo, N.M. 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 chimpanzees have not been used in experiments for about a decade and many suffer from chronic conditions related to old age, captivity, and past use in experiments, including severe heart disease, liver disease, viral infections, and diabetes.
Actress Emily Deschanel, who plays a crime-solving scientist on the TV show Bones, also wrote to Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institutes of Health, about this real-life crime against animals.
“I’m thrilled that the National Institutes of Health has suspended plans to move the 186 chimpanzees who live at the Alamogordo Primate Facility to Southwest National Primate Research Center. But I am concerned about the well-being of the 14 chimpanzees who were moved to Southwest before this decision was made,” said Deschanel. “These aging chimpanzees were moved from near retirement in New Mexico to a facility that conducts painful, invasive experiments on animals and has a long history of animal abuse.”
In June and July 2010, four female and 10 male chimpanzees were transferred to the Texas Biomedical Research Institute (formerly the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research), which houses both a primate center and a biosafety level 4 laboratory. A few months after the 14 were unlawfully transferred, the 186 chimpanzees remaining at the nonresearch facility in New Mexico were granted a reprieve from transfer and further experimentation.
Federal inspection reports show that Texas Biomed has a poor record of animal care, including recent incidents involving primates escaping from their enclosures. The biosafety level 4 laboratory, which conducts research on some of the world’s most deadly pathogens, also has serious security shortfalls, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office.
The Institute of Medicine will conduct an in-depth analysis of the use of chimpanzees in experiments, a process that could lead to the United States joining Japan and the European Union in ending experiments on these intelligent animals.
To learn more about the Alamogordo chimpanzees, visit PCRM.org/Alamogordo.