The National Institute of Health is a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the largest source of funding for medical research in the world and is comprised of almost 30 centers. Wednesday, June 26, NIH announced that they would be retiring 310 government owned chimpanzees.
Chimpanzees share 98% of our DNA, they have complex relationships, raise their young, wage wars, have friendships, alliances and enemies. They have extensive tool use and even have intricate means of communication. As far as I knew, they were endangered species. I mean, this is what IUCN’s website and even WWF will tell you. But today I learned that that was only applicable to free-living chimpanzees. This means that chimpanzees in captivity are listed as threatened. Maybe this doesn’t seem so bad, until you realize that that is the loophole that allows them to be test subjects and live in labs, in often, sub-par conditions.
This week in science from I F*cking Love Science
I was devoted to animals growing up, but I also have always had a fascination with medicine. I spent weekends during my senior year of high school either working as a hospital volunteer or shadowing an emergency room doctor, and even got the chance to sneak around and follow a neurosurgeon, much to my delight. I loved spending time in hospitals and especially ER’s. Everything was moving and random and yet so organized. I can close my eyes and smell the cleanliness and hear the beeping machines. Even now, so far removed my medical past, it gives me a sense of calm and I can honestly say I miss the nights spent in scrubs.