We live in strange, divisive times, indeed – political signs are vandalized and public statues are defaced, all in the name of what’s right. But one thing we should all be able to agree on, is that it is wrong to continue to keep an estimated 39 chimpanzees in a lab-turned-makeshift primate facility when it is cheaper and more humane to send them to sanctuary.
Well, all save for the folks paid to watch chimps suffer from stress and isolation at the Alamogordo Primate Facility.
U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., Animal Protection of New Mexico and countless others have spent years trying to get the National Institutes of Health to do right by these sentient beings. Congress ordered the chimps sent to sanctuary in 2000. In 2015, NIH admitted that chimps are different enough on a cellular level that there was no reason to keep the primates for invasive medical testing. (New Mexico’s chimps endured years of horrors that included HIV injections, forced isolation and multiple offspring ripped from their arms.)
But with jobs at stake, NIH rubber-stamped veterinarian reports that said the remaining chimps were too fragile to be moved to Louisiana’s Chimp Haven, a federal-private partnership funded in part by tax dollars.
The NIH website says it costs $130 a day to house one chimp in Alamogordo, compared with $35.65 a day at Chimp Haven. There are no trees or plants or open outdoor spaces at APF. There are 200 acres at Chimp Haven. Ninety-four of New Mexico.’s chimps have been moved to Louisiana, and by all reports are thriving. At least two chimps have been euthanized in recent months in Alamogordo when a trip was supposed to be fatal.
So while we remain divided on politics and social issues, we can all unite to contact our U.S. senators and representatives on behalf of these 39 chimps. Because giving them a tree to climb and others to socialize with – while saving taxpayer money – is truly the right thing to do.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.