The baboons that would have been used in this project are not thought to have mental lives that match the complexity of those displayed by chimpanzees. However, they still lead highly developed cognitive lives and will suffer in boring and cramped housing. They are also difficult and expensive animals to maintain in laboratory cages. Generally their existence in such facilities ranges from significantly compromised at best to miserable at worst!
We at The Humane Society of the United States understand why Hargis decided as he did and we hope that the discussion rippling out from his decision leads to the rapid ending of invasive research on chimpanzees (the only acceptable ethical outcome) and a re-evaluation of how we keep and use baboons in laboratories across the nation.
Rowan is chief scientific officer of The Humane Society of the United States.
The Humane Society of the United States is now promoting the Great Ape Protection Act in Congress to end all invasive research on chimpanzees.