Primarily Primates provides all the essentials—food and healthcare, and enrichment activities that stimulate wild behaviors and habitat maintenance—for 33 chimpanzees who were rescued from research laboratories, the entertainment industry and the exotic pet trade.
Some were used by the U.S. Air Force for space exploration testing. And several came from the Buckshire Corporation. Often operating as a supplier, Buckshire bred chimpanzees and leased animals to research labs, as well as those in the entertainment industry. Typically, chimpanzees there lived in isolation in standard-sized 5′ x 5′ x 7′ laboratory cages smaller than a shower stall.
The reason chimpanzees have been exploited by medical research is they are our closest living non-human relatives. We share over 98% DNA. As many experts say, we are 98% chimpanzee and chimpanzees are 98% human.
In the wild, chimpanzees live in and around the tropical rainforests of Africa where their diets consist of fruits, nuts and young leaves with occasional feasts of meat. They are extremely social and live in groups of 30 to 80, a far cry from the isolation chimpanzees endured because of exploitative industries before they found sanctuary at Primarily Primates.
Chimpanzees are classified as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List. At the beginning of the 20th century there were more than one million chimpanzees in the wild. Today, it’s estimated that there are less than 300,000. Their numbers are decreasing because of habitat loss and fragmentation do to residential and commercial development, logging and mining, commercial bush meat hunting, the illegal wildlife trade and climate change.
Some strides have been made in ending the oppression of primates in research. In June 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service classified all chimpanzees as endangered, which made it unlawful to conduct invasive research without a permit. Soon after, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) said that it would no longer support biomedical research on chimps and planned to retire all NIH-owned chimps to sanctuaries.
However, the NIH continues to fund research on other primates such as rhesus macaques, marmosets, olive baboons and grivet monkeys, all species who also have taken refuge at PPI.