SAN ANTONIO, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- An animal-rights group says it is protesting the planned move of almost 200 chimpanzees from a New Mexico Air Force base to a Texas research facility.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine submitted a legal petition to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asking her to retire the federally owned primates and stop their move to the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, the San Antonio Express-News reported Friday.
The foundation's Southwest National Primate Research Center says the chimps would help in studies of hepatitis B and C, AIDS and the Ebola virus.
"These chimpanzees are needed in research," center director John VandeBerg said.
Dr. John J. Pippin, the advocacy group's senior medical and research adviser, argued decades of chimpanzee-based research have failed to significantly advance human health.
"We are in this because we believe from our own experience that there's a better way to do this," Pippin said. "This is unproductive, and therefore it's especially inhumane."
A number of public figures have spoken out against the transfer, including New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, actor Gene Hackman and primatologist Jane Goodall, the Express-News reported.