Sunday, January 19, 2003

So wrong, in so many ways. See SEEC.

SPECIESIST SOUNDS OFF

Guest Comment on NRO
Chimp Deal
Money headed to the wrong kingdom.
By Wesley J. Smith

The animal-rights/liberation movement is living high on the hog these days....

Now we learn that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is planning to spend $24 million to build a retirement community for — no, not people — "retired" chimpanzees. The chimps in question were bred for medical research. But there are more animals than scientists need to conduct their important work to reduce human suffering, such as in researching cures for malaria.

That leaves the question of what to do with the unneeded chimps. This is an important problem. We humans have a moral obligation to treat animals properly and with humane care. Toward this end, the chimps could be given to well-managed zoos, wild-animal parks, and private primate sanctuaries. As a last and regrettable resort, if there were no option other than maintaining the animals in a cruel or inhumane manner, the chimps could be painlessly euthanized.

Instead, thanks to well-meaning but misguided congressional lawmakers back in 2000, the NIH is going to fund a cushy chimpanzee "sanctuary." Yes, you read it right. The federal government is going to put tens of millions of your taxpayer dollars into a Sun City for chimps....

Let me be clear: I recognize that chimpanzees are highly intelligent creatures that exhibit sophisticated social behavior. They have a higher capacity to suffer than do mice, rats, or birds. Hence — as empathetic, moral beings — we have a higher duty to treat them properly and humanely, both when using them as research subjects and after we no longer need them for that purpose.

But as intelligent as chimpanzees are, as sophisticated as their social interactions may be, as easy as it is to anthropomorphize their lives, we must also never forget that they are animals, not persons. Toward the end of alleviating human suffering and curing human diseases, the well-being and welfare of chimps must come second to our own. That should also be true with regard to how we decide to invest our limited public-health resources. It is a disheartening sign of the times that such sentiments are now explosively controversial.