Lee, D. R., Ely, J. J. 2009. Welfare and housing of chimpanzees in captive settings. American Journal of Primatology 71(S1), 105. (32nd Meeting of the American Society of Primatologists Scientific Program, Abstract #230)
Advances in facility design, healthcare, and other strategies have produced an excellent quality of life for chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) in biomedical research. Historically, many facilities housed chimpanzees individually or in small groups (2–3 animals). Laboratory chimpanzees today have interactive environments that provide social housing and psychological stimulation. Since 1992, primate veterinarians and behaviorists have significantly improved the psychological wellbeing of captive chimpanzees through enhanced environments and enrichment programs. Currently, there are 1018 chimpanzees in research facilities. Of these, 80% are NIH-owned and a moratorium permanently prohibits breeding. Today, the overwhelming majority (95%) are housed in social groups with indoor-outdoor runs that allow access to the outdoors at all times. In addition, strict Federal regulations and oversight ensure the animals’ welfare. Through medical advances and preventive medicine programs, laboratory chimpanzees also receive excellent healthcare. They are only used for critical studies where no other model can be used, such as hepatitis C or respiratory syncytial virus. Protocols are designed to reduce the number of animals used, number of procedures, and to replace chimpanzees with other models whenever feasible. Most chimpanzee research is conducted without isolation and some without sedation through cooperative training for blood collection or injections. Eliminating chimpanzees from biomedical research would not only eliminate a valuable animal model that improves human health, it could reduce the quality of life of the chimpanzees housed at research facilities.