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Ricky Gervais, New Legislation Seek End to Chimpanzee Experiments

Ricky Gervais Ricky Gervais recently told the U.S. government that chimpanzees used in invasive experiments deserve better. The Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act, introduced in Congress last month, would advance medical research by ending these unethical and wasteful experiments.

On the morning of the Capitol Hill briefing, members of Congress were asked to support the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act in a voicemail from True Blood star Kristin Bauer.

“I’m calling to ask you to co-sponsor the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act. I’ve always been fascinated by the incredible intelligence and rich social lives of chimpanzees,” said Bauer, who’s also played roles in Seinfeld, Star Trek: Enterprise, and Desperate Housewives. “This bill would end painful, invasive experiments on chimpanzees, saving taxpayer dollars.”

The new bipartisan Senate bill was introduced by Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman. The House companion bill was introduced the same day by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, Rep. Edolphus Towns, Rep. Steve Israel, Rep. Dave Reichert, and Rep. Jim Langevin.

Rep. Bartlett, a former research scientist, worked with some of the first nonhuman primates used in space flight experiments. As a member of Congress, Bartlett has become an advocate for protecting chimpanzees from invasive experiments.

Last week, McClatchy Newspapers nationwide—from The Miami Herald to The Sacramento Bee—covered the issue of chimpanzee experiments in a special report that quoted PCRM senior medical adviser John Pippin, M.D.: “Why keep poking away at something that doesn't work? The NIH is struggling with a research model that is a failure because they simply don't know what to do.”

Approximately 1,000 chimpanzees still live in laboratories in the United States. As a result of their use in experiments, chimpanzees can experience social isolation, prolonged captivity, sensory deprivation, and repeated physical harm.

Rosie, a chimpanzee used for experimentation for most of her life, has been chemically immobilized 99 times and is in very poor health. The 29-year-old chimpanzee was in retirement until the government moved her back into a laboratory cage last summer.

Outspoken comedian Ricky Gervais recently wrote to Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institutes of Health, about this move. He urged Dr. Collins to help save 14 chimpanzees, including Rosie, recently moved to a Texas research laboratory for use in painful experiments.

To learn more about the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act, visit


PCRM Online, May 2011

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