Abstract # 228:

Scheduled for Monday, September 21, 2009 01:30 PM-01:40 PM: Session 25 (Del Mar Room) Oral Presentation


E. N. Videan
Alamogordo Primate Facility, PO Box 956, Hollomon AFB, NM 88330, USA

Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and humans (Homo sapiens) are anatomically, physiologically and genetically more similar to each other than they are to any other animals. Animal rights activists and others argue that, when it is wrong to conduct invasive experiments on humans, it is no less wrong to use chimpanzees as surrogates for them. Evidence that chimpanzees are capable of reasoned thought, generalization, abstraction, symbolic representation, and self-awareness are cited as justification for the ban of all invasive research involving chimpanzees. Inescapable ethical, scientific and practical dilemmas and restrictions combine to provide a potentially powerful case against the use of chimpanzees, now or at any time in the future. Researchers argue that because chimpanzees are the closest living relative to humans, they are therefore more valuable as research models. At the least, the need for chimpanzees in biomedical research should be balanced against the costs to the animal, in terms of both psychological and physical suffering. Currently, legislation is pending within the U.S. House of Representatives that would ban the use of all great apes from biomedical research. The proposed legislation, H.R. 1326, has significant implications for the future of biomedical research, as well as repercussions for the future care and management of captive chimpanzees. These events and the current state of science create an unprecedented opportunity for biomedical researchers, animal advocates, and primatologists to direct the future of biomedical research and captive chimpanzee management.