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An adult ape lying around with a child chimpanzee in front

Ban on experiments on apes

Legal situation now

  1. §3 (6) TVG states: Experiments on members of all species and subspecies of chimps (Pan troglodytes), Bonobos (Pan paniscus) and Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla spp), as well as of all species and subspecies of the family of Orang Utans (Pongidae) and Gibbons (Hylobatidae) are forbidden.

Campaign for ban of experiments on great apes

In the 1970s and 1980s, more than 50 wild caught chimps were – often illegally – imported into Austria to be used for vivisection. In 1999, those experiments were stopped since they had not led to any advances in AIDS or hepatitis. In 2002, 44 chimps were rehabilitated from the last Austrian chimp lab. It was time to get a ban on experiments on apes.

For this campaign, the legal channels were used. The commission for advising the animal minister regarding the law on vivisection was persuaded to invite 2 experts on ape experiments on the question of a possible ban. The citizens' initiative council in parliament was handed a petition demanding an ape ban. Eventually, the Green Party put a bill on banning experiments on apes to parliament. This bill was approved by the majority in parliament on 10th December 2004. In 2005, the government introduced a bill that excluded gibbons from the ban. After intense debates and lobbying, the government bill was amended to include gibbons. On 7th December 2005, parliament agreed to the bill. On 21st December 2005, the upper chamber in parliament accepted this. From 1st January 2006 onwards, all experiments on all apes, including gibbons, are banned in Austria.

That is quite a significant step politically, since it essentially says that apes cannot be harmed in the slightest way, even if it was to save humans from certain illnesses. Medical procedures can only be applied to apes, if it is in their own interest, similar to the case of humans.

A total ban on ape experiments, i.e. including Gibbons, exists no-where apart from Austria. New Zealand, Sweden, Holland and Japan have bans on experiments on Great Apes, i.e. excluding Gibbons.

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