Following up on the good news that research chimpanzees who have been used and abused "in the name of science" are likely finally to gain the protection and respect they so dearly deserve (see also) and be retired to sanctuaries where they can live in peace and safety, Wesleyan University philosopher Lori Gruen has compiled a much needed fact sheet about the last 1000 chimpanzees used in research, modeled on the site she launched in 2006 for the first 100 research chimpanzees. Many chimpanzees are numbered as if they were or are mere objects, whereas others are named, because indeed they all are individuals who deeply and dearly deserve respect and should have been given the opportunity to live dignified lives absent horrific abuse.
The idea of compiling this longer list of research chimpanzees was suggested at a meeting of scholars from various disciplines who gathered to discuss the nature of the complex and contradictory relationships that are formed between humans and other great apes and what we can do to protect these amazing beings from further exploitation by humans in captivity and in the wild. The meeting was supported by the Arcus Foundation, an organization concerned with social justice and conservation issues, and was called "Humans and other apes: Rethinking the species interface". I had the extreme pleasure of partaking in this groundbreaking gathering.
Dr. Gruen notes that collecting the names of the chimpanzees who lived in research facilities was not easy, but she feels that one of the ways to acknowledge the debt we owe these chimpanzees is to recognize them as individuals, not as nameless tools or a mass of "research chimpanzees." For example, Yerkes National Primate Research Center (YNPRC) has refused to provide any information about the chimpanzees there. Dr. Gruen has repeatedly asked about who had died, including filing multiple Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, but has not been given any answers.
Many thanks to Dr. Gruen for undertaking this arduous task in honor of the chimpanzees who were forced to give their very lives for human well being, despite the fact that much of the research was totally useless. Now we can celebrate not only knowing who they were and are but also the fact that soon most of those chimpanzees living in laboratories will go to sanctuaries so they can live out their lives in peace, safety, and dignity.
The teaser image of Tom and Helene can be seen here.