Chimpanzee Collaboratory Poll Results
In April 2001, the Chimpanzee Collaboratory commissioned Zogby International to conduct an opinion poll on the public’s attitudes towards the use of chimpanzees in research and entertainment. Random interviews were conducted with 1,217 adults nationwide. Here are just some of the findings:
Overall, Americans are ambiguous in their feelings about chimpanzees. On one hand they overwhelmingly believe chimps have complex social, intellectual, and emotional lives much like humans, yet a significant majority believe that it is acceptable to use chimps in research to try to find cures for cancer and AIDS–so long as they don’t suffer in pain.
On thing is very clear–respondents believe chimpanzees should be treated as well as possible while in captivity. Nine in ten say it is unacceptable to confine chimps to 5′ by 7′ cages and four in five believe that when chimpanzees are done being used by a laboratory, the government should pay to have them permanently housed in a primate sanctuary.
When it comes to the legal status of chimpanzees, there is no consensus on what sort of protection chimpanzees are given under various legal systems–equal numbers think that they are convered under national and international endangered species laws and federal laws regulating the use of animals in laboratories. More than one in four do not think chimps are covered under any laws.
Half think chimpanzees should be treated the same way children are under current laws, with guardianship granted to a concerned individual and seven in ten would support a law that gives concerned parties the right to sue on behalf of abused chimps.
Finally, nearly half are not familiar with the plight of chimpanzees and the “bushmeat” trade. On the positive side, there is strong support for a boycott of companies harvesting trees that lead directly to the extinction of chimps, and if it was disclosed that chimpanzees were being physically abused to make them perform, a majority would have no problem joining a boycott of entertainment venues and their advertisers.