At Long Last, All Chimpanzees, Including Captive Animals, to Get Strongest Protections Under the Endangered Species Act

By on June 12, 2015 with 19 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

EDITOR’S NOTE: GOOD NEWS! The HSUS and the New York Blood Center have announced an agreement to provide long-term sanctuary for the Liberian chimpanzees. READ THE UPDATE »

Today, in a tremendous and long-awaited advance, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it will list all chimpanzees as endangered under the Endangered Species Act – a move expected to significantly affect the fortunes of perhaps 1,800 captive chimpanzees in the United States. Since 1976, captive chimpanzees have been wrongly denied much-needed federal protection under the ESA. Several years ago, The HSUS, Jane Goodall, and a number of others petitioned the federal government to correct what we argued was an unlawful regulation. I participated in a press teleconference today with Service director Dan Ashe and Jane Goodall to announce this upgrade in legal status that will now give captive chimps new protections.

Any use of chimpanzees that would involve harming, harassing, or killing them will now require a permit demonstrating that such use will enhance species conservation, as required by the ESA. The final listing was issued in direct response to a legal petition filed with the Service by The HSUS and a diverse coalition of organizations. Among the petitioners were the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Jane Goodall Institute, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance, Humane Society International, The Fund for Animals, and the New England Anti-Vivisection Society.

Though their wild counterparts were listed as “endangered” in 1990 amid concerns of dwindling populations, the Service made a controversial and unusual decision to “split-list” the species by depriving captive chimpanzees of the endangered status. Captive chimpanzees were only recognized as “threatened,” a status which carries far fewer protections. To make matters worse, this less stringent protection for captive chimps was accompanied by a special rule which essentially stripped away even the few protections generally afforded to “threatened” species.

As a result, these intelligent and emotionally aware primates have long been exploited by a number of industries in the United States known to cause them harm. They have been bought and sold as part of the interstate exotic pet trade. They have been forced to perform in films and silly TV commercials and in circuses by the entertainment industry. They have been used as unwilling subjects in invasive biomedical research, a practice that was deemed largely unnecessary by a 2011 Institute of Medicine report.

In our legal petition, we submitted scientific evidence showing that “split-listing” of chimpanzees was not only bad for captive chimps but that it was also bad for wild chimpanzees. In the last 30 years, populations of wild chimpanzees have fallen by 66 percent primarily due to habitat loss and poaching, which is driven in part by the exploitation of captive chimpanzees in the United States. Furthermore, there is evidence that their exploitation leads people to think that this majestic species doesn’t need to be conserved. After all, animals dressed in tutus couldn’t actually be under threat of extinction, right?

In response to our petition, the Service announced in 2011 that sufficient evidence was presented to warrant an official review, and in 2013 issued the proposed rule, finalized today, to list all chimpanzees as endangered under the ESA. Again, this was a campaign years in the making – like so many of our efforts – and we stayed the course and made a case that was hard to deny.

The last few years have brought amazing progress toward ending invasive research on chimpanzees and now our sights are set on retiring those chimpanzees to sanctuary. Last summer, we celebrated the retirement of all 110 federally owned chimpanzees from New Iberia Research Center to Chimp Haven, the national chimpanzee sanctuary in Louisiana. These chimpanzees are now able to bask in the sun and form lasting bonds as part of large social groups. Witnessing their transition from lab to sanctuary is truly heartwarming and it reminds us why we work so hard to make a difference in the lives of animals.

Unfortunately, as we are in the midst of this great progress, we have come up against new battles: since March The HSUS took up an effort to come to the rescue of chimpanzees abandoned in Liberia by the New York Blood Center (NYBC). NYBC used these chimpanzees for profit for decades and then precipitously pulled funding for their care, despite a public promise to provide lifetime care for these animals in their retirement. We are calling on NYBC to reinstate funding immediately and work with us and chimpanzee experts on a long-term, sustainable solution that is best for these chimpanzees. We are thankful to the tens of thousands of people who have joined our effort by pressuring NYBC and donating to these deserving animals who have been through so much.

There is still much to do to help chimpanzees in U.S. laboratories as well. To its great credit, the National Institutes of Health announced its intention to retire more than 300 additional federally-owned chimpanzees and we are working to see that through. Our team is diligently working with stakeholders to address the remaining challenges to getting chimps out of labs for good. (Your support of our Chimps Deserve Better campaign will help get these chimps to sanctuaries sooner than later.)

Finally, many chimpanzee populations are seriously endangered in the wild. Through Humane Society International, we’re doing more to extend protections to chimpanzees in their home ranges. In all of these efforts, it’s been our great pleasure to partner with the Arcus Foundation, which is deeply dedicated to the protection of all great apes, in the wild and in captivity. Tremendous thanks to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director Dan Ashe and his team for taking this critical step.

Please join me in celebrating this long-awaited victory—we couldn’t have done it without you.

Animal Research and Testing, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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  1. Sherry hileman says:

    its about time someone does something

  2. says:

    Wayne Keep up the great work and get undercover farm animals abuse. Again GOOD JOB…………..

  3. Sharon Wilcox says:

    Let the chimps go and have a life — give them a wonderful place to live; let them feel grass, trees — do it ASAP. thanks

  4. kim persico says:

    Stop the madness !

  5. Elaine Pinckard says:

    I am elated to hear this good news. I wonder if it will end the use of chimpanzees at the University of Texas at Austin. I graduated from UT and worked there for years. I have always been appalled by this. Can this wonderful decision change those chimpanzees’s plight?

    • Vaishali Honawar says:

      Hi Elaine, I am the editor of A Humane Nation. According to Kathleen Conlee, VP of Animal Research Issues at The HSUS, this decision will restrict the ability for laboratories to conduct research on chimpanzees that would cause them harm or injury. If someone is interested in conducting such research, they will have to apply for a permit with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and demonstrate how the proposed research would benefit the conservation of chimpanzees. Permit applications will be available to the public, thus adding much-needed transparency. Due to this decision by the USFWS and a decision in 2013 by the National Institutes of Health to restrict chimpanzee research and retire most government-owned chimpanzees, it is our hope that the laboratories will now seek a dialogue with reputable sanctuaries and retire their chimpanzees for good.

      • Cathy says:

        “Restricting” is not enough. Elimination is what is needed.

      • michele says:

        @ vaishali honawar – i was woried the “permit to further the conservation of a species” meant any species, including human. are we sure they meant and understand it’s only the benefit of conservation of the chimp species, or is there a loophole for them to get around that?

  6. Monika Gropp says:

    diese Schweine man sollte sie Aufhängen die Bestien

  7. Siraganda says:

    And what happens to the small monkeys and other animals, for example the pigs in the horrific trauma trainings of US military? You don’t lose one word on behalf of their concerns! This whole great ape theatre is utterly speciesistic, as Goodall herself, urging people in Africa to consume chicken and goats instead of chimps! You cannot be taken serious anymore because nobody realises the real truth – favoritism of special species, which are clearly preferred before others! I wrote to you years ago about this point and it has become exactly as I predicted, even worse! You are not animal protectors, but chimp protectors! I never read one word from you concerning vivisection of other animals and invasive research on other animals (except cosmetics) – because they have to replace the chimps! Monkeys, dogs and cats shall go in their place to be martyred and you know it! It is interesting that the human beast is protecting the most disgusting and repulsive species, the only one besides himself, which is completely lacking charme and lovely appearance! So welcome then to the speciesistic century! After the years I spent into animal rights the only one which got special rights is the chimp – not very much indeed! I’m utterly disappointed and outraged and I’m urging you to speak out against ALL VIVISECTION ON ALL ANIMAL SPECIES, because as you declare yourself the greatest animal wellfare organization in the US – you should deal ALL ANIMAL matters urgently, not just those for the chimps – BECAUSE FOR A NON HIPOCRYTE ANIMAL RIGHTS FIGHTER ALL ANIMAL LIFE MATTERS! Please consider and spread a word to those voices coming out of Africa!!! No further egg hatching programmes by Goodall as being showed in the Angelina Jolie Video Interview, because that one was really not serious! And as her addicted follower you should think about that maybe also a guru needs sometimes a small correction! So if you want to be respected and taken seriously by the international animal rights scene (i’m in France) you should make a real effort now, together with the other big animal rights groups, which all went caught by the Goodall Glue trap or jumped on her band waggon! But as you are the big ones you are now like the governments, but we (me and millions of other small people who have nothing to say – see the actual situation – and we are starting to urge people not to give money anymore for the big ones, because it shall not be used for to rescue dogs and cats from chinese meat markets, but shall flow into the utterly expensive résidences of chimp heavens around the world – and my legacy surely shall not be neither for humans nor for chimps, but for some species which you don’t even take into consideration – and which deserves it, because it neither mauls nor bombs its fellow creatures, but is nothing else than a helpless victim of the human beast – and as I would say even the animal rights organizations, because those nowadays got their special préférences. I’m sure that you shall not put my text online, for this reason I was honest with you and wrote what I think, even if todays AR Organizations don’t appreciate open talk, but rather hipocryte behaviour in silence – but never mind, I’m used to be silenced, since over 50 years, when the Zurich University made their horrific monkey brain vivisection – and until now nothing has changed and shall continue for the next hundred years, because you got your ‘Great Ape Protection Act’ and it’s this what you want, neither more nor less in order to fill the gap of Darwin’s lacking hybrid limb, the connection between man and beast – and that’s the great ape, with which Darwin wanted to prove the non-existence of God and the creation by hazard – but alas, the poor fellow, who by the way murdered and skeletted animals all along his life (for research, hence has not to be considered a vegetarian), this fellow died completely mad! Not much to be proud of, for the presumed (not proven) descendant of the great ape: no God, no abolition of animal abuse and no humane results! Good night and do not be too angry with me, because you have not to forget: I’m very small and powerless, and everybody likes to ignore my words, because truth hurts, but I said as I feel and see it; if I’m wrong, please let me know, if I don’t hear from you, I guess I was right!

  8. Traci Ming says:

    Stop the abuse of Chimps.

  9. Rhonda says:

    Stop this abuse and practice on jail and prison inmates. Also Stop practicing how to come up with diseases do the drug indudtry can stay in business!!

  10. JIAN says:

    Good job. And the lucky for the animals to meet Wayne and the HSUS.

  11. Rodrigo Espinosa says:

    Conratulations from Argentina.

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