Judge rules Alamogordo lab cannot keep research chimps

A federal judge has ruled that chimpanzees previously used for research in a New Mexico laboratory can be transferred to an animal sanctuary.

A U.S. District Court judge in Maryland found this week the National Institutes of Health legally cannot refuse to send chimpanzees in the Alamogordo Primate Facility to a sanctuary.

It would violate the Chimpanzee Health, Improvement, Maintenance and Protection Act. The law was established in 2000 to fund a federal chimpanzee sanctuary system.

The order is in response to a lawsuit brought by the Humane Society of the United States, Animal Protection of New Mexico and other animal rights groups last year.

According to the federal agency, 30 chimps remain in Alamogordo because of medical conditions and social attachments.

The NIH has previously said all federally owned chimps are eligible to live out the rest of their lives at Chimp Haven, a sanctuary in Louisiana.

Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby also wants both sides to file a joint report by Jan. 13 on next steps to resolve the situation.

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