Retired research chimps seek new home

(REUTERS) - After decades of using chimpanzees for biomedical research, the US National Institutes of Health, or NIH, has said no more.

And it hopes that all can live out the rest of their days in places like this - The Chimp Haven sanctuary in Keithville, Louisiana.

"I want to be first to say, those chimps who participated in research, whether it was on Aids or hepatitis C, they gave us all a gift by the things that we learned. But science has moved on, and it's clear at this point, that there is not a compelling reason for those infectious diseases or other reasons to continue to do this research", said Dr Francis Collins, director of the NIH.

But resources at the sanctuary are limited; 183 NIH chimps have already moved there, but roughly 300 still need a home.

While animal welfare groups have welcomed the policy change announced last month, this does not signal the end of research on other types of animals, which Dr Collins says is crucial for medical advances.

"But for chimpanzees it no longer made sense, and I'm very happy to have been in the position to be able to say, okay, we're done now."