Although unable to attend last week’s Senate hearing on the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act, Bill Maher and Jenna Dewan-Tatum wrote letters to Congress to voice support for a bill that will trim millions of taxpayer’s dollars, help nearly 1000 chimpanzees retire to sanctuaries, and establish ethical standards for medical research in the US.

“It’s time to get real about ending invasive experiments on chimpanzees,” wrote Bill Maher}. "You have an opportunity to save hundreds of our closest genetic cousins. As Senate Majority Leader, you have the power to pass the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act. I encourage you to bring this bill to the Senate floor for a vote and put your full support behind it.

“A landmark 2011 report from the Institute of Medicine concluded that there are no current areas of medical research for which chimpanzee use is demonstrably necessary. The Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act would help accelerate the shift to modern, human-centered, human-relevant medical research.

“Other countries have already done away with experiments on great apes because of the serious scientific and ethical problems. In fact, we are the only country to continue funding large-scale invasive experiments on chimpanzees.”

Maryland’s former state health secretary spoke before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works in support of the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act.

Dr. Wasserman also discussed the recent report that the Institute of Medicine published on chimpanzee experiments. The report authors found that chimpanzee experiments are not needed to develop an HIV vaccine, hepatitis C antiviral drugs, or treatments for a wide range of other human illnesses. They did not find a single area of human health research that requires the use of chimpanzees. After the report’s release, the National Institutes of Health suspended funding of new chimpanzee experiment proposals.

The Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act would phase out all invasive chimpanzee experimentation, prohibit chimpanzee breeding for research purposes, and retire the more than 500 federally owned chimpanzees to sanctuaries.

“This bill has now been introduced in three Congresses,” wrote Bill Maher. "Each time, it racks up an impressive number of co-sponsors on both sides of the aisle. But in the 110th and 111th Congresses, it did not make it to the floor for a vote. This time, we must ensure this critical bill gets the attention it deserves.

“Nearly 1,000 chimpanzees are locked in laboratory cages across our nation right now—many are elderly and have spent decades trapped behind bars. Most aren’t even being used in active protocols, because researchers have moved away from chimpanzee experiments after realizing how futile they are for predicting how treatments will affect human health. The Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act would release federally owned chimpanzees to sanctuaries, allowing them to spend their final years in peace.”

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