The National Institutes of Health in the US has declared that it will no longer breed chimpanzees for medical research. Although since 1995 a temporary moratorium on breeding had been in place anyway, the current decision makes it permanent. Authorities acknowledge that chimps are valuable for medical research, but that caring for them simply costs too much. Since 2000, chimps may not be euthanased after they are no longer useful for scientific studies, but must be pensioned out to a wildlife sanctuary. It can cost US$500,000 to care for a chimp over its 50-year lifespan.
Scientists differed over the impact that the new policy would have upon research. Some feel that private enterprise will breed and support the next generation. Others say that it could affect progress in finding a vaccine for Hepatitis C, since chimpanzees are the only animals which can be infected with the virus. The decision was hailed by animal rights groups.
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