Heard on the Hill: Monkey Business

Posted November 19, 2010 at 5:39pm

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) isn’t monkeying around.

The former Congressman came to D.C. last week to join Elizabeth Kucinich, wife of Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), to ask Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to stop the transfer of 186 chimpanzees from a nonresearch primate facility in Alamogordo, N.M., to a research center in San Antonio.

The chimps have been used in past medical research experiments, and as a result, many suffer from serious illnesses, Richardson says. Being transferred could kill some, and conducting further experimentation would be cruel, he says.

Richardson visited the chimps at their New Mexico home while they enjoyed their favorite meal, New Mexico green chili. “I don’t know if it was staged for me, but they were eating,” he quips.

The gov even bonded with Flo, a 53-year-old chimp. “She’s the best looking,” he says.

Elizabeth Kucinich, director of public affairs for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, adds that sadly, Richardson’s primate crush suffers from heart disease and lung problems resulting from 20 years of medical research.

“I’ll do whatever I can [to help], although I only have six weeks to go” as governor, Richardson says.