Roth IRA for Chimps
To supplement my college tuition costs I worked in a research animal lab. I loved that job. I was particularly fond of our project lab supervisor who was less than five years to approaching his retirement, eccentric and always an optimist about everything.
One unusual comment he made has stuck with me many decades later. After a testing phase with an experimental group, he would say, "Wouldn't it be great if we could retire lab animals with a 401k retirement plan and enroll them into senior community housing?" Again, he was brilliant, but eccentric.
It's been decades since I've seen our project lab supervisor and I am pretty sure he is in heaven now. I like to think of him as smiling down on a recent move that the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) a government agency is taking with chimpanzee lab animals. The NIH recently announced about more humane treatment of chimps.
While these lab animals will not be receiving a Roth IRA pension plan, they will be removing from the roster of certain types of invasive, government-supported chimpanzee research. The government agency announced that the majority of experimental chimpanzees currently held in captivity will be retired from genetic medical research that is unconscionable if there were performed on humans.
A very small group of fifty chimpanzees will be maintained in reserve for potential future government-supported medical experiments. But NIH plans to revisit this decision every five years.
It seems that pressure from animal welfare advocacy groups has made some impact. But also government scientists are stating the reason for the change in policy is largely due to the fact that chimpanzees are closely related to humans and deserved special consideration.