Wild chimpanzees have been protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for decades and were added to the IUCN endangered species in 1996, but a loophole exists in the law that has left captive chimps with virtually no protection.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) recently initiated a review of whether captive chimps should be uplisted from threatened to endangered status after a number of animal protection organizations including the The Humane Society of the United States, the American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums, the Jane Goodall Institute, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance, the Fund for Animals, Humane Society International and the New England Anti-Vivisection Society petitioned the USFWS.
“Chimpanzees are endangered everywhere due to habitat loss, poaching and illegal trafficking — wild chimpanzees are captured and sold for use as entertainment, as pets and as test subjects. The loophole in the Act creates a vicious cycle of supply and demand: Chimpanzees are exploited for entertainment, giving people the misconception that the species is common in the wild, which creates a demand for pet chimpanzees, which in turn leads to more poaching,” according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
Previous lobbying by biomedical research facilities and the National Institute of Health reportedly hindered protection for captive chimps when their endangered status was being considered. However, the December release of a report from the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine arguing against the use of chimps in invasive research may help chimps currently suffering in labs and further the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act which is now being considered and would phase out testing on chimps in U.S. labs and retire federally owned chimpanzees.
Please sign the Center for Biological Diversity’s petition asking the USFWS to protect captive chimps under the Endangered Species Act. You can also submit a public comment to the USFWS at regulations.gov until January 30.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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