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article imageFormer lab chimps go outdoors for first time: video

By Lynn Curwin     Sep 7, 2011 in World
Several chimpanzees who spent years in a laboratory were able to venture out into the daylight recently, many for the first time in their lives, and the event was captured on video.
The primates, which had been at a research facility in Austria, are now being cared for by the Gut Aiderbichl Animal Sanctuary, near Salzburg.
“They hugged, they laughed,” the Toronto Star quoted Michael Aufhauser, founder of the refuge, as saying.
“Imagine, one is 30 years imprisoned in an elevator, and then suddenly the door opens.
“They have never learned to climb. They had been placed as infants in the laboratory.”
Ten of the 38 chimps, whose photos can be seen on the sanctuary's website, have been allowed to venture outdoors.
Sky News reported that the animals were rescued in 1997 after the pharmaceutical company behind the research for which they were being used was sold. It took years before they became comfortable enough around people and new surroundings to be introduced to the outside world.
Susi, who is 37 years old, was introverted as a lab animal but is now enthusiastic and enjoys being outside.
"The chimps are incredibly happy," the Daily Mail quoted keeper Renate Foidl as saying. "This is amazing, I have been waiting for this moment for so long."
Both wild-caught and bred-in-captivity primates are used in labs.
Animal Defenders International points out that non-animal tests are faster and more accurate than testing involving animals.
"Animal research on the other hand, is outdated and suffers from the flaw that all species respond differently to substances," the organization states in a report. "Studies have shown differences between humans and laboratory monkeys, on average, a third of the time."
They cite the example of a drug called TGN1412, which caused no side effects when tested on animals, yet was almost fatal when taken by humans.
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