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Chimpanzees in Research

Strategies for Their Ethical Care, Management, and Use


Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); .
ISBN-10: 0-309-05891-0ISBN-13: 978-0-309-05891-9


Chimpanzees, because of their close evolutionary relationship to humans, are attractive models for physiological, biomedical, and behavioral studies. For example, they have participated in such important developments in the category of “national needs” as the development of vaccines against hepatitis B and in early aerospace programs. A current census maintained by the International Species Information System (ISIS) indicates that of about 2,500 known captive chimpanzees globally, about 1,500 are housed in six biomedical institutions in the United States. In 1986, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched a breeding and research program at five institutions for several basic reasons: a perceived need for these animals for AIDS research, concerns about the potential for sustaining future generations of breeding chimpanzees, and concerns about the ability to provide sufficient animals to meet other national needs. The effort met production goals, and an initial breeding population of 315 animals has produced 394 live births. Of these offspring, 331 were alive in February 1997 (176 of which remain in the NIH breeding program). The combination of an increase in chimpanzee numbers and smaller than expected use of chimpanzees in research, has created a substantial management problem that jeopardizes both the chimpanzee model for research (because of their high cost) and their quality of care in research facilities (because of reduced funding). All animals that constitute the research and breeding pool now owned or supported by NIH require provisions not only for the short term, but also for long-term maintenance, regardless of their use in research. However, the funding required for long-term maintenance of a sizable population of chimpanzees is considerable. Concerned with the burgeoning population of chimpanzees, the stress that the additional animals have created on available facilities, and issues associated with long-term care of captive chimpanzees, NIH asked the National Research Council to study these and related problems. Captive chimpanzees are behaviorally complex and have an average life span of 25 yr for males and 34 yr for females (maximal life spans are 55 yr and 65 yr for males and females, respectively), and their long-term management presents formidable challenges.


This study was supported under contract N01-OD-4-2139, T.O. 17, from the National Institutes of Health. Core support is provided to the Institute of Laboratory Animal Resources by the Comparative Medicine Program, National Center for Research Resources, through grant 5P40R-R0137; by the National Science Foundation through grant BIR-9024967; by the US Army Medical Research and Development Command, which serves as the lead agency for combined US Department of Defense funding, also received from the Human Systems Division of the US Air Force Systems Command, Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and US Naval Medical Research and Development Command, through grant DAMD17-93-J-3016; and by research project grant RC-1-34 from the American Cancer Society.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Health and Human Services or other sponsors, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government or other sponsors.

NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

Copyright © 1997, National Academy of Sciences.
Bookshelf ID: NBK109747PMID: 23115812DOI: 10.17226/5843


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