CALL OF THE WILD from the SUNDAY TIMES (April 1 2007)
Freed lab chimps to get own islands off Africa
Six remote African islands are to be turned into sanctuaries for
chimpanzees, released from research laboratories after years of
The islands, off the coast of Liberia, have been taken over by
the New York Blood Centre (NYBC) to release more than 70 animals used
in its hepatitis research programmes. Campaigners hope the example
might inspire the creation of other sanctuaries to house retired
research animals, especially great apes. The centre is one of many
research institutes to abandon experiments on chimpanzees because it
now considers such work unacceptable on ethical and welfare grounds.
The decision to set up sanctuaries for the animals to live out
their lives in semi-natural peace has been widely praised by
campaigners. The African sanctuaries are initially being set up for
the exclusive use of animals released from NYBC's Vilab facility at
If they succeed they could become a model for similar releases of
animals from zoos and laboratories. The Vilab centre, set up in the
1970s, made many breakthroughs in blood research, including the
development of vaccines to prevent the spread of hepatitis and AIDS viruses.
"Vilab did a great job for a long time but there are new methods
for doing this kind of research so we don't need to use chimpanzees,"
said Betsy Brotman, its director. "Research chimpanzees generally
receive little reward for the knowledge we gain."
"Once their work is over their futures are grim. They often live
out the rest of their lives, which last an average of 50 years, in
cramped cages or laboratories."
Brotman originally planned to release the animals into national
parks in Liberia but abandoned the idea when he realised that the
chimps associate humans with food and so might pose a risk to
tourists and villagers.
Dr. Shirley McGreal, Chairwoman
International Primate Protection League
PO Box 766
Summerville, SC 29484, USA
Phone - 843-871-2280, Fax- 843-871-7988
E-mail - [email protected], Web: www.ippl.org
Working to Protect All Primates Since 1973