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A Great Ape research ban, or severe restrictions on the use of non-human great apes in research, is currently in place in the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany and Japan, and has been proposed in Austria.
These countries have ruled that chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans are cognitively so similar to humans that using them as test subjects is unethical. Announcing the UK’s ban in 1986, the British Home Secretary said: "[T]his is a matter of morality. The cognitive and behavioural characteristics and qualities of these animals mean it is unethical to treat them as expendable for research." Britain continues to use other primates in laboratories, such as macaques and marmosets.
The British newspaper, The Independent, has argued that the "demand for a comprehensive ban by the European Union on experiments involving great apes is surely unanswerable"
The United States is the world's largest user of chimpanzees for biomedical research with approximately 1,300 individuals currently in U.S. labs. A Washington-state group called Ban Ape Research (BAR) is campaigning to enact an ordinance in Seattle that would prohibit non-human great-ape experiments in that city, which would be the first jurisdiction in the U.S. to take this step.
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