Dr. Collins said that chimpanzees are our closest relatives and "deserve special attention," and activists welcomed what many of them saw as a bold act. Kathleen Conlee, vice president of animal research for the Humane Society in the US, said, "I always think Dr. Collins has a legacy of doing what's right for the chimpanzee."
She's not so sure anymore after the agency turned down her promise to retire the animals in Chimp Haven. The chimpanzees, she said, "deserve this opportunity after going through it all."
Senator Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico, is blunt: "N.I.H. dropped the ball. "The senator, who has been advocating chimpanzee welfare for more than 10 years, added," I don't think the N.I.H. uses taxpayers' resources wisely for the humane treatment of these chimpanzees. "
According to the latest N.I.H. Information about the cost of maintaining chimpanzees, the agency spent around $ 7.6 million in fiscal 2019. Senator Udall and Animal Protection of New Mexico say the N.I.H. Alamogordo pays roughly three times as much as Chimp Haven, which is roughly $ 42 a day per chimpanzee. The N.I.H. offered a different calculation based on a nine-year average instead of 2019, with Alamogordo costing about $ 75 per day and Chimp Haven about $ 45 per day in federal funds, with an additional $ 15 per day from Chimp Haven donations were applied.
Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard, Democrat of California, another advocate for the retirement of chimpanzees, said she was "deeply disappointed" with Dr. Collins & # 39; acts. The laboratory facility cannot meet the "complex physical and psychological needs of chimpanzees," she said, and urged Dr. Collins to "do the human thing and release these chimpanzees into a sanctuary".
There is no question that the lives of the Alamogordo chimpanzees have improved since the days when they were subjects of medical research and underwent biopsies and other procedures, like Montessa. The chimpanzees in Alamogordo are not locked inside and do not suffer from invasive experiments. They are with caretakers and veterinarians who have been looking after them for years.
However, real-time information about their well-being is difficult to find. Ms. Bonar, of New Mexico Animal Welfare, had to file freedom of information requests to obtain some medical records and obtain others through Congress officials.