The U.S.’s only research chinchilla supplier has been shut down. Here’s why that matters.
Moulton Chinchilla Ranch, a key breeder of the rodents for hearing research, had more than 100 animal welfare violations.
Philip Joris needed chinchillas. The Belgium-based hearing researcher turned to the South American rodents six years ago, excited about studying their auditory capabilities, so similar to our own.
But he was surprised to find that no one in Europe seemed to be breeding chinchillas for laboratories; they were only raising them for the pet trade, and those animals, which may be inbred and have problematic genetic mutations, aren’t ideal for hearing research.
He quickly widened his search, asking his European and American colleagues for help, and they recommended Moulton Chinchilla Ranch, a facility in rural Minnesota that seems to be the only place raising the animals for research. Daniel Moulton, the owner, was very responsive, Joris says. “He was