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Resource ID: #26003
Subject: Health
Source: NBC News
Affiliation: 
Date: January 30, 2012

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Description

After many months of negotiation, NBC News' Senior Investigative correspondent Lisa Myers and Rock Center producer Diane Beasley gained exclusive, unprecedented access to the highly secretive world of biomedical research and one of the few labs in the country that still uses chimpanzees in invasive research, The Texas Biomedical Research Institute. Our report took viewers inside the lab to see how the chimps live and explored the raging ethical and scientific debate over using our closest relative for invasive biomedical research. We spotlighted the plight of 2 aging chimps with health problems, ”Ken and Rosie,” who have spent virtually all 30 years of their lives in research labs, and undergone many painful procedures and raised the question of whether they now deserve to be retired to a sanctuary. We obtained the chimps medical records and revealed that both have serious health problems, even though the lab claims they are healthy and perfect candidates for research. We asked tough questions of the Director of the Primate Center, Dr. John VandeBerg, who asserted that his lab provides a high quality of life for chimpanzees and is just as good as a sanctuary so they should live out their lives in labs.. He said “I think of chimpanzees in the same way that I think of a library. There are many books in the library that will never be used this year or next year. Many of them might never be used again. But we don't know which ones will be needed tomorrow, next year or the year after." Scientists here claim “invasive” research usually is just a needle prick or a blood draw. But, under questioning, a scientist admits that 5 chimps here have died in the last decade during research. Then, we went to the national chimpanzee sanctuary in Louisiana—known as CHIMP HAVEN—to contrast the life for retired lab chimpanzees there to that in the lab and show that some retired chimpanzees still haven't recovered from their life of confinement and experimentation. The stories featured primatologist Jane Goodall and included compelling footage of chimps she helped release from a lab in Austria when they finally were free to go outside for the first time. She argues that these creatures are so intelligent that all invasive research is torture and that, given their age and medical problems, Ken and Rosie, in particular deserve to be retired.

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