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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Nov 30, 2012.
Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act of 2012 - (Sec. 4) Prohibits: (1) conducting invasive research on great apes; (2) possessing, maintaining, or housing a great ape for the purpose of conducting invasive research; (3) using federal funds to conduct such research or to support an entity conducting or facilitating such research within or outside of the United States; (4) knowingly breeding a great ape for the purpose of conducting or facilitating such research; (5) transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, leasing, renting, donating, purchasing, selling, or borrowing a great ape in interstate or foreign commerce for conducting or facilitating such research; and (6) transferring federal ownership of a great ape to a non-federal entity unless the entity is a suitable sanctuary.
Provides that nothing in this Act limits or prevents individualized medical care performed on a great ape by a licensed veterinarian or physician for the well-being of the great ape, including surgical procedures or chemical treatments for birth control.
Defines: (1) a "great ape" as any chimpanzee, bonobo, gorilla, orangutan, or gibbon; (2) "invasive research" as research that may cause death, injury, pain, distress, fear, or trauma to great apes, including drug testing or exposure to a substance or isolation, social deprivation, or other experimental manipulations that may be detrimental to the ape's health or psychological well-being; and (3) a "suitable sanctuary" as a sanctuary that meets or exceeds the standards of care for chimpanzees held in the federally supported sanctuary system, or a nonprofit wildlife sanctuary that meets specified requirements, including that it provides a place of refuge for the lifetime of the animal and does not conduct invasive research.
(Sec. 5) Requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), upon finding that a new, emerging, or reemerging disease or disorder presents a challenge to treatment, prevention, or control that defies non-great ape models and technologies and may require the use of great apes for research, to: (1) publish such finding in the Federal Register; and (2) convene the Great Ape Research Task Force to review proposed research protocols, in consultation with the Animal Welfare Information Center, and determine whether to authorize invasive research on great apes.
Authorizes the Task Force to issue written authorization for a person to carry out an approved research protocol for invasive research on a great ape only if the Task Force determines that: (1) for invasive research for biomedical purposes, there is no suitable model available other than great apes for the research in question, the research in question cannot be performed ethically on human subjects, and foregoing the use of great apes for the research in question will significantly slow or prevent important advancements to prevent, control, or treat life-threatening or debilitating conditions; or (2) for invasive research for comparative genomics and behavioral studies, a study using great apes would provide otherwise unattainable insight into comparative genomics, normal and abnormal behavior, mental health, emotion, or cognition, and each experiment is performed on acquiescent animals, using techniques that are minimally invasive, and in a manner that minimizes pain and distress, and (3) the research has not already been found to be unnecessary by a committee of the Institute of Medicine.
Requires the Task Force to direct each person authorized to carry out such research to: (1) identify each individual great ape on which research will be performed based on the prior medical history of the great ape, (2) minimize the pain and physical or mental harm or distress to the great ape, and (3) maintain the great ape in ethologically appropriate physical and social environments throughout the course of the authorized research protocol.
Provides that nothing in this Act authorizes research to be conducted on a great ape retired pursuant to the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection Act.
Requires the Secretary to submit a report on the findings and recommendations of the Working Group on the Use of Chimpanzees in NIH-Supported Research of the Council of Councils of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
(Sec. 6) Requires the Secretary to effectuate the permanent retirement of all great apes owned by the federal government that are being maintained in any facility for the purpose of breeding for, holding for, or conducting invasive research.
Requires a federally owned great ape that is selected for invasive research authorized under this Act to be returned to a suitable sanctuary immediately after the research is concluded.
(Sec. 7) Sets forth civil penalties for violations of this Act.
(Sec. 8) Establishes the Great Ape Sanctuary System Fund to be administered by the Secretary for construction, renovation, and operation of the sanctuary system for surplus chimpanzees established pursuant to the Public Health Service Act.