Statement on Relocation of NIH Chimpanzees at New Iberia Research Center

Update (December 17, 2012): NIH issued the following announcement on its plans to move all of its chimpanzees from the New Iberia Research Center directly to the Federal Sanctuary System:

December 3, 2012: Since the September 21, 2012, statement below, NIH has been collaborating extensively with Chimp Haven, NIRC, and other organizations that care about chimpanzees to identify the maximum number of chimpanzees that can go directly into the Federal Sanctuary System within the current funding and time constraints and taking into consideration the health of each individual chimpanzee. The process of relocating these chimpanzees will take time and care to ensure their continued well-being. NIH will continue to update the community as these numbers are finalized. NIH’s goal is to retire all 110 of its research-ineligible chimpanzees into the sanctuary as soon as possible.

September 21, 2012 -- The NIH today announced that it will be relocating the NIH-owned chimpanzees currently located at the New Iberia Research Center (NIRC) in New Iberia, La., because NIH funding to the facility will end in September 2013. This circumstance, combined with NIH’s anticipation that there will be a substantial reduction in the number of chimpanzees needed for research that meets the Institute of Medicine (IOM) criteria, prompted NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., to designate all of these chimpanzees permanently ineligible for biomedical research. As of that date, there were 110 NIH-owned chimpanzees at NIRC.

Approximately 10 to 20 of the chimpanzees will be relocated to the federally supported chimpanzee sanctuary operated by Chimp Haven, Inc. in Keithsville, La., which would put Chimp Haven at or near full occupancy. NIH is continuing to evaluate options to move additional animals to Chimp Haven. It is expected that the remaining chimpanzees will be relocated to the Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio, Tx. Texas Biomedical has the specialized resources, experience, capacity, and funding mechanism to provide continued high-quality care for the chimpanzees. The animals being relocated to Texas Biomedical are considered permanently ineligible for biomedical research and therefore are retirement eligible. Relocation of the chimpanzees will be conducted on a timescale that will allow for optimal transition of each individual chimpanzee with careful consideration of their welfare, including their health and social grouping.

NIH will continue to keep the community informed throughout this transition which is expected to occur over several months.

This page last reviewed on February 24, 2015