Urge Endangered Species Status for ALL Chimps

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was created to protect ecosystems and animals at risk of extinction by restricting their trade and use, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is charged with upholding the integrity of this law. The agency is currently being challenged by groups including the Humane Society of the U.S. and the Jane Goodall Institute, regarding its controversial split-listing of chimpanzees, in which wild chimps are classified as endangered, while those in captivity are listed only as threatened. This lower classification has allowed the continued use and exploitation of captive chimpanzees in research and entertainment.

Today, approximately 2,000 chimpanzees live in captivity in the U.S., half of whom are privately owned either as pets or as part of the entertainment industry, while the other half are used in research, most of it government funded. Amplifying the suffering associated with captivity, a study earlier this year found that "captivity itself may be fundamental as a causal factor in the presence of persistent, low-level, abnormal behavior—and potentially more extreme levels in some individuals." Thankfully, though, use of chimpanzees in research has been on the decline, and pharmaceutical companies like GlaxoSmithKline and Genentech have stopped using these animals to test their drugs, negating any justification to keep them laboratories. In fact, Genetech's Theresa Reynolds, Director of Drug Safety Assessment, said, "With advances in technology, chimps are no longer necessary" for developing high-tech drugs. With the exception of the African nation of Gabon, the U.S. is the only country still using chimpanzees in invasive research.

Highlighting another concern, studies have shown that the use of chimpanzees in entertainment contributes to the mistaken belief that chimps are not in danger of extinction, which undermines conservation efforts. Over the past two decades, wild chimpanzee populations have declined 60 percent, and today there are only 175,000-300,000 chimps left in the wild.

Because the ESA prohibits the harmful use of animals in danger of extinction, endangered species classification for all chimpanzees could help end the use of chimps in entertainment and research.

Your Urgent Action is Needed

The FWS is accepting public comments on this issue through the Federal Register. Please help to protect chimpanzees in the wild and captivity by asking the FWS to classify captive chimpanzees as endangered, recognizing the reality that all chimps need protection. The letter below can be used as a guide, or copy and paste the letter, adding your own personal thoughts and concerns to your comments. When you click on 'Submit your comments,' you will be redirected to the Federal Register website. The deadline to comment is January 30, 2012.

Submit your comment


Sample Letter

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was created to protect ecosystems and animals at risk of extinction by restricting their trade and use, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is charged with upholding the integrity of this law. However, the FWS's controversial split-listing of chimpanzees, which classifies wild chimps as endangered, while those in captivity are listed only as threatened, has allowed the continued use and exploitation of captive chimpanzees in research and entertainment. This puts all chimpanzees at risk.

Studies have shown that the use of chimpanzees in entertainment contributes to the mistaken belief that chimps are not in danger of extinction, which undermines conservation efforts. Over the past two decades, wild chimpanzee populations have declined 60 percent, and today there are only 175,000-300,000 chimps left in the wild.

Additionally, suffering has long been associated with captivity, and a study earlier this year found that captivity itself can cause abnormal behavior in animals.

Furthermore, use of chimpanzees in research has been on the decline, and pharmaceutical companies like GlaxoSmithKline and Genentech have stopped using these animals to test their drugs. With the exception of the African nation of Gabon, the U.S. is the only country still using chimpanzees in invasive research.

Chimpanzees are in danger. There is no justification for allowing the continuation of their suffering, especially for those in captivity. I ask the U.S. Fish and Wild Service to classify all chimpanzees as endangered.


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