Chimpanzees may be leaving the research laboratory. In the next few weeks, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) will likely "retire" many of the 451 chimps that it supports at primate facilities. It has also put a hold on new studies and is considering phasing out several ongoing experiments. The NIH decision comes in the wake of a report issued by the Institute of Medicine in December 2011 that found many chimpanzee studies "unnecessary." What, if any, research should continue with captive chimpanzees? Are there ethical ways to conduct biomedical studies on our closest relatives? And what do behavioral studies of captive chimps reveal that cannot be learned from studying chimps in the wild and vice versa?
Join us on Thursday, 30 May, at 3 p.m. EDT on this page for a live Google Hangout when we address these questions and take yours. Be sure to leave your queries for our guests in the comment box below.
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Brian Hare is an evolutionary anthropologist at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. His has done behavioral and cognitive studies of both chimpanzees and bonobos living in African sanctuaries. He is a founding member of the Ape Research Consortium, which brings together experts studying human and nonhuman ape epidemiology, genetics, neurobiology, cognition, behavior and conservation.
Pascal Gagneux is an evolutionary biologist at the University of California at San Diego. He studied wild chimpanzee in the Taï Forest, Côte d’Ivoire, and he has done laboratory research with biological samples obtained from both wild and captive chimpanzees.
Psychologist William Hopkins studies neurological correlates of various aspects of cognition in chimpanzees. His research has focused mainly on language and communication, handedness and social behavior. He is based both at Yerkes National Primate Research Center and Georgia State University, both in Atlanta.