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Retiring Research Chimps, And Our Unique Human Evolution

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We all know the story. Monkeys in a science lab, top secret research, something goes terribly wrong. It’s no surprise that most cinematic attempts to depict research like this ends up focusing on what happens to the humans.

But what about the ethics of this research, and what it means for the test subjects? In many cases, chimpanzees have been seen as viable in research because of their close relationship to humans.

But what we now know is that many chimps have been held for research for years... unnecessarily. That’s according to a 2011 report by the Institute of Medicine. Any day now the National Institutes of Health will announce whether or not 450 chimpanzees will be permanently retired and moved to a sanctuary.

Coming up, a conversation on the ethics of animal research and what this new shift means for our scientific communities.

Wesleyan professor and author Lori Gruen joins us. She runs a website tracking the last 1000 chimps being held in captivity for research. We’ll also talk to author Chip Walter about human evolution and his book Last Ape Standing: The Seven-Million-Year Story of How and Why We Survived.

Catie Talarski is Senior Director of Storytelling and Radio Programming at Connecticut Public.

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