Tortured HIV Lab Chimps Released After 30 Years of Testing

Chimps emerge from facility, Gut Aiderbichl Animal Sanctuary, near Salzburg, Austria

Like prisoners emerging from a lifetime behind bars, a group of chimpanzees step blinking into the sunlight with what appears for all the world to be a wave and a smile.

And they have much to be joyful about. For this is the first time they have felt grass under their feet and breathed fresh air for 30 years.

Though a few of the chimps were born in captivity, most were kidnapped from African jungles as babies and flown to Europe, where they were locked in metal laboratory cages to be used in a long series of experiments. The chimpanzees were taken from their mothers shortly after their births and brought to a research facility in Austria. Horrifyingly, their mothers – who would usually raise them for six years – were all slaughtered.

Scientists kept the animals in isolation and gave them HIV and hepatitis. Their ordeal finally ended in 1997 when the pharmaceutical company behind the research was sold.

The outing marked the end of a 14-year bid to re-integrate the 38 primates after they spent most of their lives cooped up inside.

To read more on the coverage:
Sun Article – With Video
DailyMail Article – With Video

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One Comment

  1. “Like” prisoners?!? They *were* prisoners. And unless coming out of the HIV lab means they’re headed back to the forest, they’re *still* prisoners, though their conditions have just improved significantly. Regardless, they were likely born and bred “in captivity” (as prisoners).

    also, chimps do genuinely wave, smile, and much more after prolonged exposure to human social interaction. chimps are extremely intelligent, as are other great apes. they’ve been taught sign language, and the unforeseen effect was that the chimps directly expressed awareness of their own condition of captivity (even the ones born and bred as captives for many generations) as well as the desire to return to an uncaptive state. even chimps bred as slaves know they are slaves and don’t want to be, and they’ve told humans as much. many of those researchers (the one’s who taught them sign language) quit their jobs for other fields, because it’s a lot harder to do what human beings do to animals once they force you to recognize their sentience.

    There’s much more of Washoe’s story than you can find in the Wikipedia, but they still touch on some of those details of her story. she was the first.

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