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A great ape research ban, or severe restrictions on the use of non-human great apes in research, is currently in place in the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany and Austria. These countries have ruled that chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans are cognitively so similar to humans that using them as test subjects is unethical. Austria is the only country in the world where experiments on lesser apes, the gibbons, are completely banned too.
New Zealand granted basic rights to five great ape species in 1999. Their use is now forbidden in research, testing or teaching.
The United States is the world's largest user of chimpanzees for biomedical research, with approximately 1,200 individual subjects currently in U.S. labs. On December 15, 2011, US Institute of Medicine (IOM) declared in a report (see report brief) that ‘most current use of chimpanzees for biomedical research is unnecessary’ and recommended to curtail the government funded research on human’s closest relative. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced on the same day that he accepted the recommendations and will develop the implementation plan which includes the forming of an expert committee to review all submitted grant applications and projects already underway involving the use of chimpanzees. Furthermore no new grant applications using chimpanzees will be reviewed until further notice.
Announcing the UK’s ban in 1986, the British Home Secretary said: "[T]his is a matter of morality. The cognitive and behavioural characteristics and qualities of these animals mean it is unethical to treat them as expendable for research." Britain continues to use other primates in laboratories, such as macaques and marmosets. In 2006 the permanency of the UK ban was questioned by Colin Blakemore, head of the Medical Research Council. Blakemore, while stressing he saw no "immediate need" to lift the ban, argued "that under certain circumstances, such as the emergence of a lethal pandemic virus that only affected the great apes, including man, then experiments on chimps, orang-utans and even gorillas may become necessary." The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection described Blakemore's stance as "backward-looking." 
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