Watchdog: Follow the Money

WATCHDOGS TODAY: Retired monkeys living it up on federal tab in Louisiana 'Chimp Haven'

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Photo - Sweet deal? They have to endure a few needles, occasional headache, maybe a pain or two here and there, but then Uncle Sam sends its research primates to a retirement home in Louisiana. (AP Photo)
Sweet deal? They have to endure a few needles, occasional headache, maybe a pain or two here and there, but then Uncle Sam sends its research primates to a retirement home in Louisiana. (AP Photo)
News,Watchdog,Watchdog Blog,Louisiana,Follow the Money,Animals

What happens to monkeys working for the federal government as research subjects when they retire? They take it easy on the federal tab in a retirement village for primates in Louisiana, according to Washington Guardian.

Uncle Sam spent $12.4 million caring for more than 700 monkeys formerly used for scientific research at the National Institutes for Health, according to the Guardian's Phillip Schwartz. A significant portion of that spending goes for the Louisiana facility known as Chimp Haven near Shreveport.

But the most amazing thing about this situation is that the government spends more caring for the chimps than it does for people on Food Stamps, according to Schwartz.

"To put the whole program in perspective, the $12.4 million price tag last year is about half the tab that the Smithsonian reports it costs to run the entire National Zoo in Washington, D.C. And the NIH's average daily retirement cost of $50 per chimp is way more generous than the $133 per month that the government gives the average impoverished American in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps."

There may be trouble on the horizon for Chimp Haven, however, because even for Uncle Sam there are limits to how many bananas taxpayers can afford.

"That means NIH will need to go to Congress or another source for more money. Adding to the complication, the costs to taxpayers are rising," Schwartz said.

Earlier this month, NIH announced that it would no longer use the chimps in research. Most of the research in which primates were used was focused on medical issues.

In summary, Schwartz noted that "while most Americans can applaud humane retirement of animals, the NIH has left taxpayers with a gorilla-sized bill already, and left the retired chimps up a tree with no clear plan on how it will proceed."

Go here for more from the Guardian on Chimp Haven, including why it was selected for the publication's Golden Hammer.

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