February 1, 2012
Conservation and Animal Welfare Groups Submit Comments Urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Increase Protections for Chimpanzees
More than 50,000 people join numerous experts in voicing support
The Humane Society of the United States, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Jane Goodall Institute, the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance, the New England Anti-Vivisection Society, The Fund for Animals, and Humane Society International submitted public comments yesterday applauding the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for reviewing the status of the chimpanzee under the Endangered Species Act and urging the agency to act swiftly to protect all chimpanzees, captive and wild, by designating them all as endangered. Today marks the beginning of the next phase of the agency’s review as the public comment period comes to a close.
Captive chimpanzees in the U.S. are deprived of protection under the ESA even though their wild counterparts are fully protected. This disparity allows the exploitation of captive chimpanzees in the pet and entertainment trade and in invasive biomedical research, undermining efforts to conserve the species.
The USFWS, in response to a petition submitted by the coalition groups, announced in September 2011 that there was sufficient scientific evidence presented to warrant review of the status of the species under the ESA. The public comment period concluded yesterday. Coalition members submitted new scientific evidence to the agency that further supports the need to list all chimpanzees as endangered. Numerous experts, including the International Primatological Society, the IUCN Primate Specialist Group and the United Nations Great Ape Survival Partnership, as well as more than 50,000 interested people submitted comments in favor of federal action.
According to Dr. Jane Goodall, “Commercial exploitation of Pan troglodytes contributes to the species’ decline, regardless of whether the exploited chimpanzee is born in captivity or in the wild.” Multiple studies show that media depictions of chimpanzees, such as in Super Bowl ads, drive global demand for pet chimpanzees and decrease the public’s support for conservation efforts. Such frivolous exploitation is facilitated by the current USFWS chimpanzee regulations.
A recent study by a committee of the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine has also shown that nearly all biomedical research using chimpanzees is unnecessary – the committee did not identify a single area of research for which the use of chimpanzees is critical.
Populations of wild chimpanzees have fallen 66 percent in the last 30 years, primarily due to habitat loss and related poaching, which is driven in part by U.S. exploitation of captive chimpanzees. To protect this species in the wild, it is imperative that the federal government fully protects all chimpanzees, including those in captivity in the U.S.
Katie Jarl, HSUS, 301.258.1483, firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Feldman, AZA, 301.562.0777, x 252, email@example.com
Theodora Capaldo, Ed.D., NEAVS, 617.413.0611, Tcapaldo@aol.com