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Seven animal rights groups submitted public comments recently urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect all chimpanzees, captive and wild, by designating them all as endangered.
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 petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service to undertake this review. In addition, 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.
Captive chimpanzees in the U.S. are not protected under the Endangered Species Act even though their wild counterparts are fully protected. This disparity allows captive chimpanzees to be used in the pet and entertainment trade and in invasive biomedical research, undermining efforts to conserve the species.
"Commercial exploitation of Pan troglodytes contributes to the species’ decline, regardless of whether the exploited chimpanzee is born in captivity or in the wild," said Dr. Jane Goodall. Populations of wild chimpanzees have fallen sixty-six percent in the last 30 years.
The USFWS, in response to a petition submitted by the coalition groups, has stated that there is sufficient scientific evidence presented to warrant review of the status of the species under the ESA.