Ohio State University officials have decided to close its long-standing chimpanzee research center and retire those primates to an animal refuge in Texas.
The nine chimps currently housed at the center will be moved to the San Antonio refuge where they will live out the remainder of their lives. No research is allowed on animals kept at the refuge.
The decision, announced today, is the culmination of a nearly four-year effort to find a new home for the animals.
In recent years, research institutions across the country – including the Air Force, the National Institutes of Health and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration – have elected to reduce the amount of primate research they conduct and retire many of their animals. That has made locating an appropriate long-term home for the animals a more difficult task for Ohio State.
“While we are rightfully proud of the outstanding research that has evolved from Ohio State’s primate cognition project in the last decade or so, we believe the time is now right to move the animals to safer quarters where they can live out their lives in peace,” explained Robert McGrath, senior vice president for research at the university.
Two earlier agreements with other refuges have fallen through during the last two years. Under an agreement with this third refuge, Primarily Primates, Inc., the animals will be transported by truck to the Texas facility where a new permanent facility is being built for them.
Ohio State is paying for construction of that facility, for medical exams and shipping, and providing an endowment to support the animals.
Costs for the transfer of the animals will be covered by the university’s Office of Research and are expected to total approximately $324,000. Previously, the cost of operating the OSU chimp center has reached nearly $200,000 annually.
The current chimp facility, located off Godown Road north of campus, was last refurbished in 1991 when the university housed only five animals in the building. Since then, the total chimp population has risen to nine animals, most of which are either adult or nearing adolescence.
The current population, five males and four females, ranges in age from five to 47 years old. Chimpanzees can reach 65 to 70 years old in captivity.