Woody Harrelson has teamed up with PETA to urge the release of 14 chimpanzees that have been removed from retirement and sent to the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (SFBR) in Texas to be used in "invasive and painful infectious disease experiments."

The 49-year-old actor commended officials at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for stalling original plans to transfer 186 chimps, but now would also like these additional apes returned to the Alamogordo sanctuary. The chimps were transferred from the rehabilitation facility to the laboratory in 2010.

In a letter, written on behalf of PETA, Harrelson wrote, "These aging chimpanzees ... have endured decades of violence and torment, having been used in everything from space experiments to high-velocity seat belt tests.

"Only in the last few years have they enjoyed bedding, fruit, toys, the touch and companionship of other chimpanzees, and freedom from the knife. Will you please return the 14 chimpanzees ... to these simple pleasures and allow them to continue the rehabilitation that they have more than earned?"

Harrelson joins other celebs like Kristin Bauer and Gene Hackman in asking for this transfer to be cancelled permanently. Back in August, Hackman wrote,

"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," he said. "The United States is the last developed country on earth still making large-scale use of chimpanzees in invasive experiments."

Will Harrelson's appeal work? Stay tuned. In the meantime, take action yourself by filling out this form letter via PETA to urge NIH to return the last 14 chimps forced out of retirement.

Also on MNN: Wild chimps deactivate hunters' snares

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

Woody Harrelson urges chimp release
Actor applauds medical officials for stalling plans to transfer 'retired' chimpanzees back into labs, but he says more can be saved.