Not so fast, especially if Yerkes National Primate Research Center is any indication.
Yerkes’ big grant for research on aging ended a couple of weeks ago, so the researcher stopped her work. Another chimpanzee research project could possibly start up again ‒ “doing auditory stuff,” from what I’ve heard ‒ but it is looking dead as well because funding is a big question.
The Yerkes researchers keep tabs on the Georgia Animal Rights and Protection protesters, who are leaders in the effort to convince Yerkes to retire Wenka and the other senior chimpanzees. People who have worked at Yerkes assure me that Yerkes is not going to retire Wenka. I was also told, “a host of the other chimps they [GARP] want released are already dead.”
Wouldn't Yerkes management at least have the heart to let us know about the deaths of the chimpanzees? No harm would come from that, surely?
Yerkes does not release the names of their dead animals. The only time the public gets a list is when someone from the inside “steals” the information. And then, the only way insiders will know is if he or she works with the chimpanzees and, even then, half the time they find out from someone other than the vets. In one major understatement, I’m told that Yerkes managers “are very protective of all that information.”
So the moral of this story, boys and girls, is not to get your hopes raised too high about sanctuary for the chimpanzees who have been used up by federally-supported research. People like Stuart Zola, director of Yerkes Research Center, want to keep the chimps for their brains and their hearts ‒ because, obviously, the people at Yerkes lack them.