When you think about it…can we have it both ways?

Photo by Bragi Thor

There is legislation in the U.S. Congress that would phase out the use of great apes in invasive research, prohibit the transport of great apes for the purposes of invasive research, prohibit breeding great apes for the purpose of invasive research, and require a provision for lifetime care of federally-owned great apes in a suitable sanctuary for a permanent retirement.

Who could be against protecting great apes? It would appear the researchers for one. That’s how they make their money, practicing invasive research on animals, not just great apes. Suppliers of animal products and services would be against such legislation also as that would cut into their profit margin. Those who supply the animals, whether wild caught or through breeding programs, would also feel the financial pinch. Since the apes can’t speak for themselves, we must. We must question their use just as other countries have, and most have rejected the use of great apes in biomedical research.

We’re told great apes are so much like us that using them in biomedical research will bring forth better results to protect us humans against all sorts of diseases. Yet, if they are that much like us, then why not just use us? We shrink from human experiments, but we seem okay with experimenting on our closest relatives. Can we have it both ways? Can we say they’re like us so we can use them but they’re not really that much like us so it’s morally and ethically okay to use them? But then, if they’re not that much like us, how can the results of the research be relevant to us? It’s a vicious cycle, one the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act will, if passed, break.

Advances in medical research now show that animal testing in general is unnecessary and has, in some cases, proved misleading in finding causes of and cures for human diseases. Such advances include the use of human cell cultures, human living tissues, computer-based models, and human volunteer studies. We do not need to perpetuate animal testing and the harm that it does to both the human and nonhuman animal alike.

When you think about it…keeping these intelligent, emotional, social, and cognitively aware animals in metal cages for research is inhumane. Even if a laboratory attempts to create an environment more conducive to these animals’ nature, that laboratory cannot replicate normal life as spent in the jungle among family and peers. We can’t have it both ways. The only way is to pass The Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act and free these subjugated animals from a life of deprivation and degradation.

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