Council of Councils

Council Advice on NIH-Owned or -Supported Chimpanzees

NIH Veterinary Panel

In November 2018, NIH established a panel of NIH veterinarians with chimpanzee or other non-human primate expertise (Panel) independent from the NIH Chimpanzee Management Program, external stakeholder groups or organizations, and sites holding chimpanzees. The Panel was established to review the records of at-risk chimpanzees  when the attending veterinarian determined that a chimpanzee should not move to the federal sanctuary located at Chimp Haven, Inc. because of health or welfare related concerns. In addition to medical records, this review included discussing with the attending veterinarian his/her rationale for not signing the health certificate necessary for transfer, and consulting with other veterinary specialists who have examined the animals, and if needed, examining the chimpanzees to determine if the chimpanzees should be relocated or remain at their current facility. The Panel met for the first time in February 2019 to begin reviewing records for at-risk, NIH-owned chimpanzees located at the Alamogordo Primate Facility (APF).

In September 2019, the Panel completed its APF review following a protocol they developed to ensure uniform standards. The Panel agreed with the APF attending veterinarian’s decision about which animals should remain at APF.  The Panel prepared one-page summaries of their review of each chimpanzee at APF.

Working Group on Assessing the Safety of Relocating At-Risk Chimpanzees

On January 26, 2018, NIH charged the Council of Councils with assembling a working group to assess the safety of relocating at-risk chimpanzees. The Working Group was to provide advice and recommendations on factors to be considered by attending veterinarian staff when deciding whether to relocate NIH-owned or -supported chimpanzees between federally supported facilities and the federal chimpanzee sanctuary. On May 18, 2018, the Working Group presented their findings to the Council of Councils, which subsequently adopted the report and recommendations and transmitted them to NIH for consideration. The NIH issued a public request for information until August 10, 2018, to obtain broad input and inform the agency in its decisions regarding the Working Group’s recommendations. On October 17, 2018, the NIH released a report summarizing the public comments and announcing its decisions on assessing the safety of relocating at-risk chimpanzees owned or supported by NIH to the federal chimpanzee sanctuary system.

Chimpanzee Research Use Panel

(Working Group disbanded following NIH decision to no longer fund biomedical research using chimpanzees.)

Working Group on the Use of Chimpanzees in NIH-Supported Research

On Feb. 2, 2012, NIH charged the Council of Councils with assembling a working group to propose advice on implementing recommendations by the Institute of Medicine (now the National Academies) to consider the size and placement of the active and inactive populations of NIH-owned and -supported chimpanzees.  On January 22, 2013, the Council of Councils accepted the working group’s recommendations and provided these recommendations to the NIH. After seeking and considering public comments, the agency accepted a majority of the Council’s recommendations on June 26, 2013.

Timeline of NIH Decision to End the Use of Chimpanzees in Research

September 2019 The NIH Veterinary Panel made its determination that the remaining NIH-owned chimpanzees at the Alamogordo Primate Facility (APF), based on their health and social groupings, should remain at that facility.
February 2019 The NIH-established panel of three NIH veterinarians with expertise in chimpanzees or other nonhuman primate veterinary medicine first met in February 2019 to begin reviewing records for chimpanzees at the APF. In November 2018, NIH formed this panel of three veterinarians who are independent from the NIH Chimpanzee Management Program, external stakeholder groups or organizations, and sites holding chimpanzees to review the records of NIH-owned or supported chimpanzee under consideration for relocation, discuss with the sending attending veterinarian his/her rationale for not signing the health certificate necessary for transfer, and consult with other veterinary specialists who have examined the animals, and if needed, to examine the chimpanzees, to determine if the chimpanzees should be relocated or remain at their current facility.
February 2019 NIH publishes a standardized chimpanzee health categorization framework to inform relocation decisions of at-risk chimpanzees.
October 2018 NIH announces its decisions on recommendations from the Council of Councils on relocation of at-risk chimpanzees.
May 2018 NIH Council of Councils presents recommendations.
February 2018 NIH charges a working group of the Council of Councils to assess the safety of relocating at-risk chimpanzees.
August 2016 NIH develops plan to retire NIH-owned and -supported chimpanzees
November 2015 NIH announces it will no longer support biomedical research using chimpanzees
June 2015

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalizes rule listing all chimpanzees as endangered under the endangered species act

June 2013 NIH announces it will significantly reduce the use of chimpanzees in research
January 2013 NIH Council of Councils presents recommendations.
December 2011

NIH Director accepts NAS recommendations and charges a working group of the Council of Councils to make recommendation on how to implement them.

December 2011 The National Academies (then the IOM) issues report: Chimpanzees in Biomedical and Behavioral Research: Assessing the Necessity. Concludes that most current use of chimpanzees in biomedical research is unnecessary and that the use of chimpanzees in research that may still be needed should be guided by a set of principles and criteria.
December 2010 NIH Director commissioned a study by the Institute of Medicine to determine the continued scientific need for chimpanzees in NIH-funded research.

This page last reviewed on October 24, 2019