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Captive Chimps

Learn here why all chimps deserve to be retired from biomedical research, and why they should never be used as actors in entertainment or kept as pets.

Biomedical Research

More than 1,000 chimps in the United States suffer in laboratories today, despite the development of new scientific alternatives. Many captive chimps have been injected with viruses (especially Hepatitis B, C, and HIV), subjected to hundreds of episodes of anesthesia, and held in metal cages devoid of social contact.  Many of them exhibit bizarre behavior, much like humans with psychiatric disturbances, from stress and social deprivation of laboratories.
The US is the only country in the developed world still conducting large-scale research on chimpanzees. The National Institutes of Health is working to retire all but 50 of its chimpanzees to sanctuaries, but other chimpanzees remain in use by private laboratories.  Check out the Take Action Here section to learn what you can do to help.

Like prisoners emerging from a lifetime behind bars, a group of chimpanzees step blinking into the sunlight. This is the first time they have felt grass under their feet and breathed fresh air for 30 years. A few of the chimps were born in captivity but most were kidnapped from African jungles as babies and flown to Europe, where they were locked in metal laboratory cages to be used in a long series of experiments. Their ordeal finally ended in September 2011 when 38 of the surviving chimps were released into a sanctuary in Austria called Gut Aiderbichl, allowing them to feel the nurturing contact of their fellow chimps after years of being separated by bars and bullet-proof glass.


The cute and funny chimps you see in movies are all youngsters. Hollywood uses them only for a few years while they are young, adorable, and manageable. By the time they are 7 to 8 years old, chimps are far stronger than humans and can no longer be easily controlled. Trainers usually give the chimps up to roadside zoos or laboratories at this point where they suffer in tiny cages and dismal conditions. To view some real-life examples and learn more, watch this video.


Chimpanzees should NEVER be pets.  Once they begin to mature, they become far stronger than the strongest human, and also become unmanageable.  Because of this, they have to be kept in expensive, carefully constructed enclosures and are condemned to a life of captivity and deprivation.  Pet chimpanzees often become neurotic, the result of having been traumatized by being removed from their mothers at birth.  Some states still allow people to breed chimpanzees, but thankfully, new regulations are likely to start regulating and restricting this practice.