Federal Court Rules NIH in Violation of CHIMP Act

photo of 2 chimpanzees at Chimp HavenThe United States District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division, recently ruled that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) violated the Chimpanzee Health, Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection (CHIMP) Act for not retiring former research chimpanzees to a sanctuary.  The CHIMP Act [Pub. L. No. 106-551, 12/20/2000; codified at 42 U.S.C. 283m] mandated the creation of a federal sanctuary system for the lifetime care of retired research chimpanzees.  Since 2002, the sanctuary has been operated by the private nonprofit Chimp Haven.  As a previous blog post noted, in late 2015, NIH announced it would no longer support biomedical research on chimpanzees and all NIH-owned chimpanzees living outside of Chimp Haven were now eligible for retirement.  In the ensuing years, NIH retired over 2/3 of its chimpanzees.  However, in 2019 and 2021, NIH announced many frail chimpanzees in its Alamogordo Primate Facility and Keeling Center for Comparative Medicine and Research (aka MD Anderson facility) would not be moved.  In 2021, several animal rights groups, led by the Humane Society of the United States, sued NIH.  In her recent ruling, Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby found the NIH did not have the discretion to determine which chimpanzees should not be moved and violated the CHIMP Act.  However, Judge Griggsby acknowledged NIH veterinarians’ concerns about moving old and chronically ill chimpanzees.  By 1/13/2023, both parties are to file reports with the court, then meet with Judge Griggsby on how to proceed.