When Dr. Jane Goodall went to Africa to study wild chimpanzees exactly 58 years ago today, she embarked on a career that forever changed the way the world views chimpanzees. Over time, learning of the threats to chimpanzees in both captivity and the wild, Dr. Goodall became a devoted advocate for these animals and other wildlife. Fittingly, July 14th is now World Chimpanzee Day – a day that celebrates chimpanzees, raises awareness about the threats to their survival, such as habitat loss and wildlife trafficking, and promotes better approaches to their care in captivity.
The Humane Society of the United States and its affiliates are committed to protecting chimpanzees across the globe through advocacy and direct care. The breadth of our work includes ending invasive biomedical research on chimpanzees in the United States, ensuring all chimpanzees are protected as endangered species, supporting the work of African sanctuaries and conservation initiatives, rescuing dozens of chimpanzees at risk in Liberia after a long-running research project ended there, ending the exploitation of chimpanzees in roadside zoos and as pets, and working to guarantee that around 225 retired chimpanzees, who still remain in U.S. laboratories, go to sanctuary. We’re also helping chimpanzees directly through our direct care commitments.
On World Chimpanzee Day today, I want to share with you the progress we have made for chimpanzees and the work that remains to be done:
Support chimpanzees at Project Chimps and Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch: The need for chimpanzee sanctuaries in the United States is great. We have been pleased to provide major support to Project Chimps, a sanctuary located in Georgia. The New Iberia Research Center in Louisiana has committed to retiring all of its chimpanzees to Project Chimps and 40 have been moved so far, while 170 others are waiting for their transfer to Project Chimps. A recent video of a chimpanzee enjoying a ball pit has brought smiles to many faces. If you’d like to help, you can donate to Project Chimps and help 170 additional chimpanzees make their way to sanctuary.
Long before Project Chimps was established and before we took over the care of the Liberia chimpanzees, our Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch was providing lifetime care for former research chimpanzees at the sanctuary. We provided a home for Nim Chimpsky, famous for his participation in the sign language research that helped to demonstrate the remarkable capacity of chimps to communicate with humans. Now, Lulu and Midge, both chimpanzee residents at the ranch, are enjoying their retirement. Lulu has suffered from strokes and diabetes but because of excellent medical care, she has thrived beyond expectations and we recently threw her a party for her 55th birthday. Donate to Midge, Lulu and the other animals at Black Beauty Ranch.
Retire all research chimpanzees to sanctuary: The federal government committed to retire all 225 of the chimpanzees it owns, and financially supports, to Chimp Haven, the national sanctuary, but as I wrote recently, there are laboratories trying to prevent their transfer into sanctuary. Chimpanzees can live for up to 60 years and we need to give these animals an opportunity to enjoy their retirement. Please write to the National Institutes of Health and tell them to send the last of the research chimpanzees to sanctuary, so these animals don’t die in the laboratories.
Maintain Endangered Species Act protections for chimpanzees: A legal petition we filed in 2010 on behalf of a coalition of organizations led to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision listing chimpanzees as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), making it unlawful to conduct harmful research on chimpanzees or to breed them for use in entertainment. Unfortunately, Congress is currently considering removing species that aren’t native to the United States from ESA protection, including tigers, lions, elephants and chimpanzees, among other animals, putting these species in peril in the wild and facilitating their exploitation domestically. We need you to tell Congress to keep endangered species protected.
End the use of chimpanzees in circuses and as pets: Our wildlife experts have worked hard over the years to prohibit ownership of chimpanzees as pets, sparing these animals from being locked away in basements and garages in a total of 27 states that have enacted such laws. We have also pushed to end the use of chimpanzees and other animals in circuses and other forms of entertainment. Chimpanzees are not here to amuse us and using them frivolously in circuses and movies negatively impacts both their welfare and prospects for their conservation. Sign our petition to let circuses know that they should end wild animal acts.
Help provide care for former research chimpanzees in Liberia: While working to end chimpanzee research in the United States, we were alerted to a group of more than 60 chimpanzees in Liberia, West Africa, used for research by a U.S.-based organization and in need of long-term care. We responded to this need with the support of dozens of other organizations, ultimately coming to an agreement that involved our commitment to provide half of the funding needed for the lifetime care of the chimpanzees and to provide direct care for them on a daily basis. A dedicated team of caregivers delivers fresh water and food twice a day every day to these animals by boat to the six islands where they live. You can help by donating to the care of the chimpanzees in Liberia. You can also follow their story on Facebook.
Dr. Goodall’s work is an inspiration to all of us, and we are proud to join her in celebrating the first World Chimpanzee Day today. Let us take a moment to celebrate the progress that has been made for “our closest cousin in the animal kingdom,” while keeping an eye on the future and keeping up the momentum for the work that remains to be done.