Chimpanzee sanctuaries open door to more research

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Science  29 Jul 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6298, pp. 433-434
DOI: 10.1126/science.353.6298.433

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The lab chimp is on the verge of extinction. Fewer than 700 remain in U.S. laboratories, and most are expected to move to sanctuaries over the next decade because of ethical and scientific concerns. But a new opportunity may be opening up for studies of chimpanzee behavior and cognition: A first-of-its-kind partnership between a sanctuary and a research center, announced this month, is designed to bolster the scientific output of facilities that have until now primarily focused on the long-term care of their animals. Proponents hope the agreement will become a model for others. But such partnerships won't be easy, because sanctuaries, particularly in the United States, have long had a fraught relationship with the research community. Scientists, meanwhile, have questioned whether important, quality studies can be done at facilities that allow little or no interaction between researchers and animals.