Outbreak of Sanity and Humanity in US?
Every animal used for vivisection suffers, and every single one is important. Perhaps, though, it is easier sometimes for people to relate when chimpanzees are used in experiments. Of course, chimpanzees are incredibly like us, making it easier for many people to empathise with their suffering, but perhaps most of all, for me, it is the length of their lives. They can live as long as we do, and the thought of anyone facing decades in a laboratory is terrible indeed.
That’s why it was so heartening to hear of the latest victory from PETA US. Last year, a terrible threat emerged: around 200 “retired” chimpanzees – previously used in experiments and kept in tiny cells, alone, isolated, and with nothing but a cement slab to sleep on – might have been sent back to a US laboratory for further research, after nearly a decade free from it. Following an intense campaign by PETA US and many other individuals and groups, including the governor of New Mexico and a former astronaut, the US government agency responsible announced at the very end of last year that it had shelved the plans. Sadly, it was too late for 14 of the chimpanzees, who had already been sent to the laboratory, although efforts are underway to try to get them back.
Could it happen here? Almost certainly not – the UK government has a long-standing policy against approving experiments on any great apes (ie, chimpanzees, gorillas, orang-utans and bonobos), and no apes have been used in tests anywhere in the European Union for years. The new EU law also contains a clause preventing great apes from being experimented on, although there is a loophole that allows them to be used in “exceptional circumstances.” In practice, it’s hard to imagine such circumstances ever arising.
However, other animals, including monkeys, aren’t so lucky. Keep an eye on PETA’s action alerts for information about how you can help to ensure that when the UK government revises animal experimentation legislation over the next year or so, we get the best possible outcome for animals.