The existing chimpanzee population is more than adequate to meet research needs for at least five years. Moreover, increasing the number of chimpanzees maintained in the major NIH-supported biomedical chimpanzee facilities would risk eroding the quality of their care as a result of overcrowding, pressure on limited resources, and contamination of breeding and other research-naive animals by those used in infectious-disease studies. Therefore,
(1) A breeding moratorium should be imposed for at least five years (1997-2001).
Such a moratorium, necessary to prevent additional strain on the system, will not itself create more housing space or improve the housing of many animals now in the research population, but it will reduce operating costs by about 15% from present costs by year five. Decisions about acceptable means of population maintenance and control in a setting of scarce resources are inordinately complex and involve both scientific and ethical questions; there are no simple solutions.
The committee has been made aware that both the NIH National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) and the Interagency Animal Models Committee have orally communicated to breeding colony managers and researchers that euthanasia as a means of population control is not desirable. The committee agrees with those groups and with members of the public with whom these issues were discussed and recommends that this position be formalized and communicated to all government-supported chimpanzee managers and researchers. Therefore,
(2) Euthanasia should not be endorsed as a general means of population control.
The committee fully recognizes the implications of that recommendation in regard to lifetime funding for all animals and the need for additional space and facilities for an aging population, the third fundamental issue addressed in this report. There are about 1,500 US biomedical chimpanzees. The committee examined in detail the trend of reduced use of the chimpanzee model in biomedical research. Chapter 2 discusses this topic by first reviewing the past use of chimpanzees