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Governor Bill Richardson Asks USDA to Investigate Planned Transfer of Alamogordo Chimpanzees

Press Release

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Governor Bill Richardson today filed a complaint with the United States
Department of Agriculture asking it to stop and investigate the planned transfer of 186 chimpanzees from the Alamogordo Primate Facility. The National Institutes of Health plans on moving the chimpanzees to a facility in Texas where they will once again be subject to invasive medical testing. The Alamogordo chimpanzees have not had to undergo testing in nearly a
decade.

The complaint asks the USDA to investigate if the transfer violates the Animal Welfare Act which prohibits the transportation of ill, injured or physically distressed primates. Many of the Alamogordo chimpanzees suffer from serious chronic conditions related to old age and their history as medical test subjects.

"This is an urgent matter and I am asking the Department of Agriculture to immediately launch an investigation into the proposed transfer of these chimpanzees," Governor Bill Richardson said. "These chimpanzees have already given so much of their lives to medical research, and they should be allowed to permanently retire free from invasive testing."

The complaint is supported by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and Animal Protection of New Mexico which joined Governor Richardson today at a news conference in Washington, DC.

"The chimpanzees in Alamogordo are still reeling from the impact of decades of invasive experiments and forced breeding," said John J. Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., senior medical and research adviser for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. "There is no justification for subjecting them to the hazards of transportation and more testing at this stage of their lives--they simply don't have the strength to make it through."

"It is morally wrong to send these long-suffering creatures back into invasive research," Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States said of the chimpanzees at the Alamogordo Primate Facility. "It is time for the federal government to recognize the service of these animals, retire them, and permanently end their days of isolation and suffering."

"New Mexicans are very troubled that the National Institutes of Health would move these research veterans once more into invasive experiments where they will surely experience further suffering," said Laura Bonar, R.N., program director for Animal Protection of New Mexico. "Many lives have been touched by these chimps, and the move would negatively impact the local
economy, affecting many families with unemployment. Further, the National Institutes of Health intends to spend millions of tax dollars building new housing for the chimps, but tax savings could be had in New Mexico while honoring the concerns of tens of thousands of citizens to permanently retire these chimpanzees."

The chimpanzees have been housed at the Alamogordo Primate Facility on Holloman Air Force Base since 2001. According to the agreement with Holloman, no research may be conducted on the primates where they are at the facility. However, NIH's contract with Charles River Laboratories, which operates the Alamogordo Primate Facility, is set to expire next year and NIH
plans to move all the chimpanzees to the Southwest National Primate Research Center in San Antonio, TX.

The transfer of the chimpanzees will also result in the loss of nearly 40 jobs at the Alamogordo Primate Facility.


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