Woody Harrelson has a heart for animals that's as huge as his list of acting credits. Now, he's teaming up with PETA to help 14 chimpanzees who have been yanked from retirement and sent to the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (SFBR) in Texas to be used in invasive and painful infectious disease experiments.
As you may recall, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) originally planned to transfer 202 "retired" chimpanzees to SFBR but shelved this idea following pressure from former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, members of Congress, PETA and other animal protection organizations, and tens of thousands of PETA supporters. However, 14 chimpanzees whom NIH had already transferred to SFBR are still imprisoned at the facility.
This morning, Woody sent a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and NIH Director Francis Collins urging them to "extend the same mercy" to these 14 chimpanzees.
Writes Woody, "These aging chimpanzees have been imprisoned for their entire lives. They have endured decades of violence and torment, having been used in everything from space experiments to high-velocity seat belt tests. Only in the last few years have they enjoyed bedding, fruit, toys, the touch and companionship of other chimpanzees, and freedom from the knife. Will you please return the 14 chimpanzees at SFBR to these simple pleasures and allow them to continue the rehabilitation that they have more than earned?"
Will Woody's letter convince these decisionmakers to do the right thing? We'll keep you posted. In the meantime, let's add our voices to the chorus calling for these chimpanzees' retirement.
Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post