NIH Puts Squeeze on Chimpanzee Living Space

Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country The few chimpanzees still used for biomedical research in the United States can live in much tighter quarters than some experts prefer. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has decided that about 23 square meters (250 square feet) per individual is adequate. That is just one-fourth the area that an advisory committee had recommended.The space plan affects a dwindling number of research chimpanzees. In December 2011, an Institute of Medicine (IOM) report found that most research on chimpanzees is unnecessary and that NIH should limit the animals’ use. After asking an advisory committee to help it carry out IOM’s advice, NIH announced last June that it would retire to sanctuaries all but 50 of its 360 research chimpanzees and impose new requirements on any remaining NIH-funded behavioral and biomedical studies.The one sticking point, however, was the advisers’ recommendation that an individual chimpanzee have at least 93 square meters (1000 square feet) of primary living space. NIH said there was little evidence to support that amount of space, which could be costly, especially because the chimpanzees were supposed to live in groups of at least seven animals. So the agency decided to get input from experts on animal care and commission a literature review. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Email Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe NIH has now concluded that the smaller area is sufficient. The one research team that has studied chimpanzee enclosure size in zoos concluded that once the animals have at least 12.2 square meters per individual, the benefits of more space taper off, NIH says in a notice today. More important than space is that animals have room to climb and “complexity,” such as places to hide from other animals, it says. (The new minimum is 10 times larger than the current required enclosure size.)The Humane Society of the United States, which has pushed to end invasive chimpanzee research, is “disappointed,” comments Kathleen Conley, vice president of animal research issues at the organization. She says the experts NIH consulted with are all from research laboratories. “They can’t expect people to support this recommendation with such a biased process,” she said in an e-mail. read more