450 Maple Avenue East * Vienna, Va. 22180
Volume VIII, Number 8
WELFARE FOR CHIMPS (TO BE PROVIDED BY THE CHUMPS)
Are you ready for this one? Trust me, you are not. Think you've heard it all regarding the screwball proposals that come out of Washington D.C. --- insane boondoggles that squander your hard-earned tax dollars and mine? Well, you haven't. So, sit down, read on --- and weep.
With a one-year, $250,000 Federal grant from the National Institutes Of Health (NIH), the National Research Council has issued a report titled: "Chimpanzees In Research: Strategies For Their Ethical Care, Management, And Use." And guess what this report has recommended? Go on, guess. Are you seated?
Well, this report urges that the Federal Government (that means us; our money) set up "a central office" which should assume the ownership of a majority of the chimpanzees that have been used in scientific research and --- provide them with "lifetime" care and management!
So, what, exactly, has prompted this absurd proposal? Well, you'll not be surprised, I assume, to learn that, first, the Feds, messed things up. The N.I.H., in 1986, launched a breeding program for chimps to meet a predicted increase in demand for these animals for AIDS research. But, guess what? This prediction was wrong. The need for these chimps was smaller than anticipated. So, now, there is an excess of chimps. There are approximately 1,500 of these critters housed in six biomedical facilities throughout the United States.
This oversupply, we are told, has created "substantial management problems" for the institutions where the chimps live. Daily care for each animal averages $15 to $30, and the cost of maintaining a chimp over the course of its expected 25 to 34 year life span can be as much as $300,000. Also, "overcrowding" at existing facilities increases the risk that the animals will pass infectious diseases to one another. And, and, captive chimpanzees cannot be returned to native habitats because they are unlikely to survive and could introduce new strains of disease to chimps in the wild.
Wow. And you thought you had problems! --- which, of course, you do because you (and I) are paying for all of this.
Incredibly, those who wrote this report say, presumably with straight faces, that shifting management of the majority of these chimps to a central Federal office "should help avoid future over-supplies" of these animals and "ensure" that they will be used "more efficiently." And, we are confidently assured, this new Federal office creating a Chimp Czar will not increase the $7.3 million (!) we already spend yearly to care for these creatures.
FEDERAL POLICY MAY YIELD A "GAY CHIMPS HEALTH CRISES"
Right. We all know how "efficiently" centralized Federal operations work. But, remember, it was the Feds (NIH) who, first, gave us this over-supply problem. So, why is it assumed that another Federal office --- and a centralized one at that --- will now solve this problem. Answer: Because Federal bureaucrats never get it. They never realize that they are the cause of problems, not the solution to problems.
Okay. So, what, precisely, is being proposed in this report? What is being suggested, that we should pay for, concerning the "core group" of approximately 1,000 chimps that "should be assured lifetime support by the Federal Government"? Well, a lot of things --- a lot of things that many poor human beings in America don't have.
For openers, it is said there should be "long-term housing" for the chimps which should meet "high standards for quality of care" --- housing that "might span several decades." There should also be "provisions for the special behavioral, cognitive, social, and emotional needs (!)" of the chimps because all of this is "crucial to their well-being."
To avoid the "social isolation" of these animals, "innovative sanctuary concepts and developmental plans are encouraged." But, some models, such as "water-moated areas and free-ranging islands" are not good ideas. Why? Because, among other things, chimps on an island would have to be provided with food and water. And if the suppliers of this food and water can reach these islands, so can the general public and "that increases the risk of disease in the animals and the risk of injury to the general public."
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION TO MEET SPECIAL NEEDS OF AIDS-INFECTED CHIMPANZEES
Another problem with island-dwelling chimps: "Ex-captive animals would not likely compete successfully with wild animals for food and shelter." So, like human beings who have grown up as slaves on the Federal Welfare Plantation, chimpanzees who have spent their lives feeding at the public trough also cannot make it in real life. Interesting. There just might be a lesson here. As for water-moated areas for chimps, this is a no-no because they can't swim and might drown.
So, what to do? Well, since chimpanzees are "complex, social animals," they need "special housing" in order "to express a full-range of species-typical behaviors." This means "corrals" and "indoor-outdoor caging systems." And the indoor environment means, of course, "housing large enough to house all animals in case of inclement weather or repairs to outside areas." You mean these animals can't even be rained on?! I guess not.
Regarding the "behavioral well-being" of these creatures, it is noted that studies have shown that, in the wild, adult chimps spend about 10 percent of their waking time traveling, 20-30 percent resting, 50-60 percent of their day foraging or eating. So, "every effort" should be made to duplicate this life-style for our Federally-funded, furry friends.
ANOTHER ARGUMENT FOR HUD'S PUBLIC HOUSING PROGRAMS
Oh, and all long-term housing should have climbing apparatus and resting areas above ground. And chimps need their "space." We are told that, in the wild, chimps eat alone and "space themselves at least an arm's length apart." The implication here is that our chimps should do likewise.
Now, the "special considerations" --- as if the aforementioned are not already "special" enough. There should be "standards" for the proper chimp sanctuaries. All of them should be, among other things, inspected annually by the Department Of Agriculture. ("What does your Dad do? He's a chimp-inspector at the Agriculture Department").
There should also be "one animal-care technician per day for every 10-15 chimpanzees --- well-trained personnel to provide appropriate care --- seven days a week." Why? Because, silly, "the goal of all chimpanzee housing and management is a high degree of well-being." I mean, you wouldn't want our chimps to have problems with their self-esteem, would you?
But, just one "animal care technician" per 10-15 chimps, per day, is not sufficient. No way. It is also recommended that each staff facility include "a trained chimpanzee behaviorist" who can "evaluate" the "well-being" of "individual animals." And, and, all chimps should have implanted in them microchip identification and must be tracked "for life by a single agency." Sounds like a gross invasion of their privacy to me. I thought animals had "rights." I know Federal taxpayers don't. But, I thought animals do.
But, why do any of this? Well, because, we are told, there are "societal obligations" to chimps who are no longer needed for research or breeding. Thus, there must be "cooperative support from Federal agencies, Congress, commercial companies, and non-government organizations." Oh.
But, why not privatize all of this, let private industry do it, more effectively, efficiently, less expensively? Well, because "there is no one in the private sector who wants this chimpanzee population," according to Dr. Tom Wolfle, Director Of The Institute For Animal Research at the National Research Council.
Me: "So, why not do what the Interior Department has done regarding their problem with excess free-roaming wild horses and burros? They have an adoption program which lets our citizens adopt these creatures. Why not do this with these chimps?"
Wolfle: "Because many of these chimpanzees are infected with Hepatitis and the HIV (AIDS) virus."
Me: "So why not let people with Hepatitis and HIV/AIDS adopt these chimps then?"
Wolfle: "Well, that's a possibility. But, you don't just take the chimps in. You must provide a sanctuary for them."
Me: "Well, excuuuuuuuuuuse me! Of course --- a sanctuary. Do these chimps also have to have color TV, cable and free HBO?!"
Wolfle (laughing): "I wouldn't doubt it. I tell you, the standards for the care of animals in this country exceeds that of a lot of our poor people."
Indeed. And a lot of us are poorer because we have to pay Federal taxes to pay for this kind of wasteful nonsense!
Finally, an obvious solution. Why not just, humanely and mercifully, put these useless chimps to death? Dr. Wolfle estimates that this might reduce the chimp population by hundreds and save us millions of dollars.
EUTHANASIA EXCLUDED --- THEY HAVE A "RIGHT TO LIVE" AT YOUR EXPENSE
Well, this N.R.C. report says that "euthanasia" was considered but rejected. Why? Because "a strong sentiment" was voiced against this at public meetings. And because the "phylogenetic status" and "psychological complexity" of chimps indicate that they must be given "a special status" that might not apply to such animals as dogs, rats or other non-human primates. Sounds like discrimination to me.
It is also said that if the chimps were killed, some of the "best and most caring members of support staff would --- for personal and emotional reasons --- resign." Well, great! This would mean fewer Federal employees!
Speaking of "emotions," I'm getting a little "emotional" writing this. And the emotion I'm experiencing is anger. I'm angry that your hard-earned tax dollars and mine are spent to fund such a hare-brained report as this one. True, we need to use chimps for scientific research. I agree. But, why a Federal program? Where is this in the Constitution? It's not. This is one more example of expensive, wasteful "monkey business" by our national government. And it should cease. A barrel of monkeys may be fun. But, not "sanctuaries" of hundreds of older, useless, diseased, chimps --- especially when I am forced to pay for their retirement with my Federal tax dollars.
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