As critics laud Woody Harrelson's performance in the just-opened movie Rampart, Harrelson is taking another serious turn in the letter he just sent on PETA's behalf to California Senator Barbara Boxer.
In the letter, Harrelson asks Senator Boxer—the chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works—to join the more than 160 senators and representatives who are supporting the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act, which would permanently end the use of chimpanzees and all other great apes in invasive experiments, retire federally owned apes to sanctuaries, and save taxpayers millions of dollars a year. For this legislation to move forward, Boxer must schedule a markup so that the committee can consider it.
“Despite international criticism, the United States remains the only nation in the industrialized world that continues to conduct invasive experiments on chimpanzees, humans’ closest living genetic relatives,” wrote Woody. "I’m writing to you today, as a constituent, to ask you to support the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act (S. 810), which would permanently end the use of chimpanzees in invasive experiments and retire all federally owned chimpanzees to sanctuaries, all while saving taxpayers an estimated $30 million every year.
Through my work with PETA, I have learned a great deal about chimpanzee behavior and the plight of chimpanzees imprisoned in laboratories. I was shocked to learn that the use of chimpanzees in experiments still persists in the U.S. even though the entire European Union and every other country around the world, except for tiny Gabon, have banned such experiments. Chimpanzees are extremely social, intelligent individuals who have rich emotional lives and experience intense bonds with one another throughout their lifetimes. They have remarkable memories, share cultural traditions that are passed down from generation to generation, and grieve the loss of loved ones when they pass away. But nearly 1,000 of these complex beings are locked inside barren cells in U.S. laboratories—some for as long as 50 years—where they have been intentionally infected with diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis and forced to endure decades of invasive procedures, fear, loneliness, and pain. This hellish experience leaves lifelong emotional scars on chimpanzees, and many of them resort to self-mutilation or suffer from depression and other psychological disorders for years after experiencing the trauma of having their minds and bodies violated.
“Scientists agree that chimpanzees are poor models for researching human diseases, and in December 2011, the prestigious Institute of Medicine issued a report stating that nearly every use of chimpanzees in laboratories today is scientifically unjustifiable. Yet taxpayers forked out more than $200 million for chimpanzee experiments between fiscal years 2000 and 2010.
“I hope you will agree that chimpanzees deserve better and will choose to support the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act, which would save these sensitive, vulnerable beings from a lifetime of suffering and give many of those currently in laboratories an opportunity to recover and have some semblance of freedom and peace for the rest of their days. With your assistance, we can help put an end to the use of chimpanzees in invasive experiments.”
Find out more at PETA.org.