For the 200 chimpanzees housed at the Alamogordo Primate Facility in New Mexico, the future is looking a bit bleak. They're all being threatened with deportation to a Texas lab known for animal experiments. Adding insult to injury, their past was just as rotten — the chimps are retired test subjects that, up until now, have been enjoying the good life.

Enter Gene Hackman — who has teamed up with True Blood's Kristin Bauer, PETA, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Animal Protection of New Mexico, and other animal rights groups in speaking out against the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) plan to transfer the chimps.

"Scientists around the world have largely stopped experimenting on chimpanzees, in part because these animals just haven't proven to be good models for human health research," Hackman writes in a letter to the NIH, obtained by Tonic. "The United States is the last developed country on earth still making large-scale use of chimpanzees in invasive experiments."

"As you know, efforts to save the Alamogordo chimpanzee have drawn support from Gov. Bill Richardson, Sen. Tom Udall, and many other people around the state and across the country," he added. "I join them in urging you to fulfill the National Institutes of Health's goal to 'exemplify and promote the highest level of scientific integrity, public accountability, and social responsibility in the conduct of science' by allowing these chimpanzees to live out their lives in the safety of a sanctuary."

More than 1,000 chimpanzees still live in laboratories in the United States. Here's hoping that efforts to secure a peaceful future for this group in New Mexico succeed.

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Gene Hackman steps up to protect retired chimps
Actor gets behind effort to prevent 200 former lab chimpanzees from being used in future experiments.