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Actress Joins PCRM Campaign to Save Great Apes

Traumatized victims in metal cages the size of kitchen tables. Emily Deschanel’s character on FOX’s Bones uncovers fictional scenes like this every week. But this isn’t fiction. It’s happening to more than 1,000 chimpanzees kept in laboratories across the United States. So last week, Deschanel asked Congress to put an end to this abuse.

Emily Deschanel of FOX's BonesDeschanel wrote to Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., asking him to support a ban on using primates in invasive scientific research. In the letter, Deschanel asks Waxman to co-sponsor the Towns-Reichert Great Ape Protection Act (H.R. 1326). This bipartisan legislation would phase out invasive experiments on chimpanzees and release all federally owned chimpanzees to sanctuaries. Waxman is a member of the House Subcommittee on Health, where the bill was introduced.

“On TV, I play a forensic anthropologist who solves crimes by reading clues in victims’ bones,” writes Deschanel. “In real life, I’m an animal protection advocate, and I don’t need any more evidence to know that the way we treat chimpanzees is unacceptable. Chimpanzees used in experiments suffer immensely.”

Deschanel’s letter was covered by Roll Call and U.S. News & World Report’s Washington Whispers column. Both periodicals are widely read by senators, representatives, and other Capitol Hill staffers who will play a critical role as The Great Ape Protection Act (GAPA) comes up for a vote.

“It can be easy to forget these animals who are locked away and out of sight,” writes Deschanel. “The Great Ape Protection Act is the best chance we have to ease their pain and suffering.”

That suffering was observed firsthand by PCRM primatologist Debra Durham, Ph.D., and PCRM director of research policy Hope Ferdowsian, M.D., M.P.H. They conducted an observational study involving 116 chimpanzees previously used in laboratories and now in a sanctuary. They found that the chimpanzees have a high prevalence of symptoms of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other anxiety disorders, much like human victims of traumatic experiences.

“People may be shocked to learn that as a result of social and environmental deprivation in U.S. laboratory settings, some chimpanzees begin biting themselves, pulling their hair out, or self-mutilating in other ways,” says Dr. Durham. “It’s time for us to join the growing list of countries that ban invasive experiments on these amazing animals.”

The passage of GAPA would put chimpanzees in a unique position that could eventually result in greater protections for all animals. Phasing out the use of chimpanzees in research would channel funding to the development and implementation of modern, humane, and scientifically superior alternatives, which could help reduce the use of all animals in research.

Visit PCRM's GAPA Web page to urge your U.S. representative to co-sponsor the Great Ape Protection Act, learn more about chimpanzees forced to live in laboratory research settings, and join the GAPA Facebook cause.


PCRM Online, July 2009

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