Browne George Ross

Browne George Ross Sues to Protect Chimpanzees

Browne George Ross filed a suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to overturn an order by the National Institutes of Health to send 100 chimpanzees that are no longer needed for research to a laboratory in Texas.  The suit contends that the chimpanzees, currently living at the University of Louisiana research center in New Iberia, Louisiana, must be moved to Chimp Haven, a sanctuary in Keithville, Louisiana designated under federal law to house all federally-owned chimpanzees that are permanently retired from research.  The NIH, apparently bowing to political pressure to send the chimpanzees – along with whatever federal funds accompany them – to Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, sought to skirt the federal requirements by designating the chimpanzees as “permanently ineligible for research” rather than “permanently retired” or “surplus” as stated in the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance and Protection Act (the CHIMP Act), passed by Congress in 2000.  The suit contends that, while the NIH is drawing semantic distinctions for political purposes, the chimpanzees will suffer the consequences by being forced to live on concrete floors rather than dirt and grass, being deprived of opportunities for exercise and stimulation, and being cared for by laboratory assistants not principally charged with seeing to their long range needs.  The suit, filed by Eric M. George and Ira Bibbero on behalf of three individuals including one, James Reaux, who worked for 15 years with the chimpanzees slated to be sent to the laboratory in Texas, seeks a declaration that the NIH’s decision is an abuse of discretion that must be set aside.