Federal Issue Brief

 H.R. 1513/S. 810, Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act

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AVMA Position:

Nonsupport

Summary:

Introduced by Congressman Roscoe G. Bartlett (MD-6th) and Senator Maria Cantwell (WA), this bill would prohibit: 
  • Conducting of invasive research on great apes.
  • The use of federal funds to conduct invasive research on great apes.
  • Breeding of great apes for the purpose of conducting invasive research.
  • Requires permanent retirement of all federally-owned great apes to suitable sanctuaries.

Background:

  • Biomedical research on nonhuman primates is highly regulated, especially for research using chimpanzees.
  • Current standards of care for great apes in biomedical research include humane and ethical treatment, consisting of environmental enrichment and quality lifelong care.

Justification:

  • The bill requires retirement to sanctuaries of federally owned great apes, but does not include or direct the development of guidance, nor does it allocate funding for appropriate long-term care of those animals.
  • Potential negative impacts on research focused on improving the health and welfare of these species that is currently being conducted in zoological settings.
  • The definition of 'invasive research' included in the proposal is poorly written and overly broad.
  • The bill claims that the government would save money with this type of ban; however this has proved incorrect by cost comparisons published by NIH's Office of Extramural Research. (http://grants.nih.gov/archive/grants/policy/air/cost_for_caring_housing-_of_chimpanzees_20110609.htm)
  • While the bill correctly relates that federally supported primate sanctuaries must meet existing federal standard requirements, the bill's definition of "non-profit wildlife sanctuaries' includes no such oversight.

Current Status:

  • H.R. 1513: House Committee Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health.
  • S. 810: Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

AVMA Contact:

Dr. Whitney L. Miller, Assistant Director, AVMA Governmental Relations Division, 202-289-3211.