PETA-Allied ‘Sanctuary’ to Test COVID Vaccines on ‘Rescued’ Chimps — Potentially Violating the CHIMP Act and ESA

One of the largest vaccine testing trials in history will be taking place at Project Chimps — a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals allied “sanctuary” for apes.

Project Chimps was founded in 2014 following the end of National Institutes of Health funding for biomedical research on these animals. 

Typical experiments on primates will use two or three animals, there does not appear to have ever been an experimental drug or vaccine given to this many primates at the same time ever before in history.

“About 70% of the chimpanzees at Project Chimps have been trained to receive voluntary injections, and the staff is working on preparing the rest,” Science Magazine reports

The nonhuman COVID-19 vaccine was created by Zoetis, a U.S. company that was originally the animal division of Pfizer. It was created to be used for cats and dogs and has only been authorized for experimental use in animals, according to the report.

Testing experimental vaccines on these chimps, many of whom were already used for animal research in the past, appears to be a direct violation of the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Management and Protection (CHIMP) Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Under the CHIMP Act, which passed in 2007, chimpanzees that are retired from biomedical research are prohibited from being returned to laboratories or used for experimentation.

While other sanctuaries are saying no to testing on their animals, PETA’s pals at Project Chimps have offered up their 77 chimps to take the experimental vaccine, despite already having COVID-19 precautions in place and more than 95% of their staff being fully vaccinated. There are zero reported cases of a chimpanzee contracting COVID in any sanctuary, zoo, or in the wild, leaving many scratching their heads about why this “sanctuary” would risk it.

When primates were previously used for testing an Ebola vaccine, the trial was shut down after 28 days for violating the Endangered Species Act. In June 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service changed the ESA to list all chimpanzees – both captive and wild – as endangered. 

Seemingly to avoid the messy public relations scandal, Project Chimps is trying to present the use of this experimental vaccine as a simple effort to protect the animals, but the truth appears to be far more sinister.

Currently, there is a shortage of primates for animal testing in the United States due to how many were used for COVID vaccine testing last year. Additionally, the macaque monkeys that they were using have the wrong cell receptor and only get mildly sick from COVID. 

“Chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, and bonobos all share versions of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, the cell surface receptor to which SARS-CoV-2 binds to initiate infections,” Science Magazine reported.

Essentially, researchers want to test on something closer to humans. Great apes are susceptible to COVID and chimpanzees specifically are considered an “ideal” research subject because they share more than 98% of their DNA with humans.

“Monkeys can be challenged—that is, deliberately infected with COVID-19 after being given an experimental vaccine. Researchers can then follow the animals’ exact progression of disease or lack thereof, tracking how quickly antibody levels shoot up or whether a vaccine reduces how long the monkey sheds the virus,” the Atlanta reported last year. “These details are harder to get in human trials because people are naturally exposed to COVID-19 and aren’t being monitored every day. (Although some researchers have proposed human challenge trials for COVID-19, the idea is controversial and none has begun.)”

Project Chimps was founded to be a sanctuary for animals that were previously used for testing in labs, which makes using the experimental vaccines on their animals that much more egregious.

“The U.S. government declared in 2015 that it would stop funding invasive chimpanzee research, and in 2016 the largest private chimpanzee research facility in the world pledged to send all 220 of its chimpanzees to Project Chimps within 5 years. That process has been slower than expected and mired in controversy; so far, 80 chimps have been relocated to Project Chimps,” Science Magazine reports. This total includes animals that have been moved from other, smaller, sanctuaries.

Despite 80 chimps being moved there since it began, there are currently only 77 chimps in their care. This is because they got three of them killed last year by recklessly placing them in enclosures with more aggressive animals.

PETA Seized a Privately Owned Zoo’s Lion — In Part, Because It Loved the Owner Too Much

Speaking to the Gateway Pundit, Michael Robison, a primate expert who runs the Small Primate Animal Rescue TN, blasted the sanctuary for using experimental vaccines on their animals.

“It is atrocious to realize that those leading the way in a message of help and hope for Chimps are the very ones leading the way back to testing, laboratory life and risking our endangered species for the chance to make money in big pharma! When large companies like Pfizer couch this illegal and unethical research in sister companies, with no regard for the danger to the animals, and only the desire for income and results…. Why would we trust them with our health and well-being?” Robison said.

“In the end, the reason I do the work I do to save and serve primates is to preserve our heritage, our planet and the dignity of God’s creation,” Robison said.

Last July, PETA had to issue a statement responding to twenty-two whistleblowers from Project Chimps who alleged severe animal abuse at their facilities. They did not end their relationship with the organization, which many believed to be hypocritical with how hard they are on everyone else. The whistleblowers alleged poor veterinary care, overcrowding, rushed chimpanzee introductions, a lack of sufficient enrichment and infrequent access to the outdoors.

BREAKING: PETA Seizes Chimps From Safe Sanctuary, Places Them in ‘Grave Danger’ Despite Warnings From Vet and Experts

In July, PETA used a Project Chimps vehicle to seize six chimps from Tonia Haddix in Missouri.

The Gateway Pundit reached out to PETA with questions about their relationship with Project Chimps and received a call back, however, their spokeswoman said she would email a statement and had not by time of publishing. We will update this article if a statement is received.

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