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PCWS Press Release

Release Date: October 30 2000
Contact: Hope Walker, President The Primate Conservation and Welfare Society (1-888-595-PCWS)
Contact: Dr. Craig Brestrup, The Association of Sanctuaries (254-898-8330)

Chimpanzees Face Uncertain Future in the Senate

For almost four years, several dozen of the nations top animal welfare organizations and animal sanctuaries have been battling it out with the National Institute of Health (NIH) over HR 3514, `Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection Act' - a bill which would allow the NIH to retire an estimated 1,000 laboratory chimpanzees, which have been deemed "surplus", into private primate sanctuaries across the United States.

Last month, when the bill passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee it looked like the chimpanzees just might win - and gain a new, permanent retirement.

But, for the chimpanzees, all is not well on the hill.

Last week, Rep. Bliley, R-VA, Chairman of the House Commerce Committee introduced an amendment to the bill, which allows the NIH to recall the chimpanzees from these private sanctuaries any time - now or in future - for additional research. Unfortunately, the amended version of the bill also passed in the House of Representatives by voice vote.

"The amended version of the bill is not merely a compromise for the chimpanzees, it undermines the entire premise of the original bill - to provide permanent retirement to the chimpanzees -- and that is simply appalling," stated Hope Walker, Executive Director of the Primate Conservation and Welfare Society.

Eight national and international primate organizations, including two national sanctuary associations - The Primate Conservation & Welfare Society, The Association of Sanctuaries, Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation Inc., International Primate Protection League, National Sanctuary for Retired Research Primates, Primate Freedom Project, American Sanctuary Association and the Coalition to End Primate Experimentation - are all asking the senate to reverse the changes to HR 3514 and pass the act as originally written.

"With just a few lines of text, Representative Bliley has crushed the hopes of chimpanzees and chimpanzee friends -- that there is a light at the end of the dark tunnel of lives of experimentation," says Dr. Shirley McGreal of the International Primate Protection League. "I understand that Rep. Bliley is retiring from the Congress and I am sure he expects to collect his benefits for a life of hard work. Chimpanzees whose lives have been sacrificed for the well-being of the human race deserve no less."