NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The U.S. sanctuary for retired federal research chimpanzees is about to nearly double its population when it receives 113 new primates from a Louisiana lab that no longer has a National Institutes of Health contract to conduct animal research.
NIH originally planned to send only 10 of the chimps currently housed at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette's New Iberia Research Center in New Iberia to Chimp Haven, a sanctuary in Keithville, La., near Shreveport, that currently harbors 121 animals.
It revisited its plan, however, after several nonprofit groups agreed to donate or help raise $2.3 million of the $5.1 million Chimp Haven is trying to raise for expansion.
The federal government owns or supports about 670 chimpanzees, including those at the New Iberia research center and at Chimp Haven. NIH decided late last year that chimpanzees should be used in research only as a last resort, so more are likely to be retired.
Half of the 113 chimps in New Iberia will be relocated from the lab in the next four months, with the rest to arrive in 12 to 18 months as expansion continues, said Chimp Haven director Linda Brent.
"This is an historic day for research chimpanzees in the United States," Brent said. "We look forward to continued cooperation between the NIH, Chimp Haven and animal protection organizations to retire many more chimpanzees in the future."
Eight of the chimps are youngsters that will be accompanied by their mothers, said Kathleen Conlee, director of program management for the Humane Society of the United States. "To us that's very exciting news."
Of the 121 chimps currently at Chimp Haven, the sanctuary covers the full $13,000 annual cost to maintain 15 that were once privately owned, while the government pays 75 percent of that cost for the remaining, federally owned animals.
Other federally owned chimps are in two laboratories in Texas and at an Air Force base in Alamagordo, Texas.
Chimp Haven's expansion project was derailed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005; Brent and others revived it last month when they kicked off the $5.1 million fundraising campaign.
The Humane Society of the United States is giving $500,000 for the expansion, The New England Antivivisection Society $100,000, and The National Anti-Vivisection Society $25,000. The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health — an independent nonprofit created by Congress — will help raise money.
"We do hope that this will lead others to join us in raising these funds — especially the pharmaceutical companies and others who have used chimpanzees in the past," Conlee said. "We think it's time for them to step forward and give back to these animals."
The National Institutes of Health has no money available to dedicate to the expansion — and if it did, such spending would go past a $30 million cap set when Congress approved Chimp Haven as the national sanctuary for chimpanzees used in federal research, said Cathy Hudson, deputy director for scientific outreach and culture.
The New Iberia Research Center where the 113 chimps are currently housed is not renewing a contract with the NIH to use the chimps for research.
James Anderson, NIH deputy director for program coordination, planning, and strategic initiatives, said during a conference call Tuesday that the contract's termination "had absolutely nothing to do" with the way the animals were treated.
In 2009, the Humane Society said its investigation found 338 violations of federal law and policy, from substandard care to the illegal breeding of chimpanzees, at the New Iberia lab. Vets from both Chimp Haven and the research lab agree that four of the chimps are too ill right now to move. And a fifth has died since NIH announced in September that the animals would be retired from research.
JUNE 19 Former Saint Steve Gleason, who is paralyzed by ALS, released a statement Tuesday in response to the Atlanta radio station's skit making fun of him and the disease, this Picayune post reports. What did he say? He said he'd accepted the apology of the DJs who did it, notes that at least the incident has got people talking about ALS, and asks anyone who is burning to take action about it to do so -- by helping him fight ALS.
JUNE 19 Blogger Ian McGibboney takes a look at the Gleason incident in this post. He makes a good argument about the difference between having free speech and being free from consequences for your speech (which none of us is). He also admits that many of us got upset before we listened to the skit -- but lets us know that the reality is far worse than we can imagine. It was the incredibly bad judgment, even more than the actual speech, that probably got those DJs fired, he opines.
JUNE 19 Washington Post blogger Aaron Blake writes about Sen. Guillory's switch to the GOP in this post. He writes what most political watchers in Louisiana know: Guillory was a Republican before he decided to run for the senate seat in a mostly-D St. Landry district, and has switched back now that he plans to run for Lt. Gov. in a mostly-R state. But how come Blake missed Guillory's appearance on a TLC pageant show? Now that is a video we'd like to see. (Again).
JUNE 19 Here's another Washington Post blog post about a Louisiana politician, and it's just plain scathing. Ezra Klein says Jindal's Politico post was "insulting" to the intelligence of voters, and adds that Jindal is personifying the "stupid" he's railed against, by being an "elite" who convinces GOP activists of "things that aren't true." Me-ow.
JUNE 19 Here's Gov. Jindal's post in Politico, in which he asks the GOP to get over losing to Obama (again) and stop "the bedwetting." (Uh, what?) He gives his Republican buddies what is probably a nerd's idea of a coach's motivational talk, which starts with a list of accomplishments that they can't seem to exploit and ending with an absurd description of liberals that sounds like a character treatment for a Fox "News" movie scripted by Gordon Liddy. Sure, he's preaching to the choir, but even the choir's not this gullible.
JUNE 19 Lamar Parmentel read Gov. Jindal's post on Politico, but thinks it was so dumb it probably was published in the wrong paper. This post by Lamar on the Daily Kingfish opines that possibly Jindal's post was destined for the Onion -- because the governor couldn't possibly be serious here. If you listen closely, you can hear the staff of the Kingfish giggling.
JUNE 19 Blogger Robert Mann posts from Turkey, a country he has visited several times in the past few years. Mann gives an interesting overview of the current political and societal climate of the country, which -- if you're living under a rock and don't know -- is experiencing protests and turmoil these days. Mann promises to post as much as he can during his trip, which should be fascinating reading.
JUNE 19 Blogger CB Forgotston says the legislature is keeping the vicious cycle going with its funding of new buildings for the community college/technical college system. Universities across the state need maintenance and improvement on existing buildings, and the solution is to build new buildings at other schools? By the time the bonds are paid off, those buildings will be falling down, too, CB says.
Frank’s Casing Crew, now doing business as Frank’s International, will make its final appearance on ABiz’s list of the Top 50 Privately Held Companies in Acadiana this year, and once again it will likely be at the top with more than $1 billion in annual revenues. The 75-year-old company specializing in tubular fabrication and installation services to the oil and gas industry plans to offer shares of its stock to the public for the first time.
The defeat, or rather highjacking of House Bill 420 in the final days of this year's Legislative Session, say Reps. Vincent Pierre and Terry Landry, is the result of the propaganda spread by one unidentified local media outlet and an unnamed former state Representative, but nothing to do with the original legislation's lack of checks, balances or details.
He’s a singer. A songwriter. A piano man. A family man. He’s even got his own Wikipedia entry. He’s David Egan. And he knows ancient secrets about the monolithic stones of Stonehenge that he’s not willing to share.