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Editorial: Chimps get early holiday

This Fourth of July will have special meaning for some 300 sentient beings who have no knowledge of the Declaration of Independence but who have sacrificed their health and freedom in service to this country.

We are referring to the chimpanzees the National Institutes of Health had the courage to finally permanently retire from painful, invasive and pointless biomedical research. Many, if not all, of the chimps housed in New Mexico will be included in that number.

Director Francis S. Collins had his agency do a 180 last week, reversing course and saying “new scientific methods and technologies have rendered (chimpanzees’) use in research largely unnecessary. … greatly reducing their use in biomedical research is scientifically sound and the right thing to do.”

This amazing change of heart and direction is due in no small part to the unwavering dedication of many New Mexicans to the cause of ending the ethical, scientific and fiscal wrongs inherent in chimp testing. Thanks to advocates like Laura Bonar and Animal Protection of New Mexico; elected officials including former Gov. Bill Richardson, former Sen. Jeff Bingaman and Sen. Tom Udall; and the staff of the Alamogordo Primate Facility, who have tirelessly cared for at least 169 ill primates for years with a goal of getting their wards into a true sanctuary.

All spoke up to stop the wrongs being done to weaker creatures. It is fitting to celebrate their hard work ensuring independence for them this Fourth of July week.

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.