Protect Captive Chimpanzees Under the Endangered Species Act

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The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is supposed to protect imperiled animals on the brink of extinction, but current regulations under the ESA leave captive chimpanzees with virtually no protection, despite the fact that wild chimpanzees receive the benefits of endangered status. This “split listing,” in which wild chimps are listed as “endangered” but captive chimps are listed as merely “threatened,” facilitates the exploitation of captive chimpanzees in entertainment, biomedical research, and the pet trade.

Since the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) instituted the split listing of chimpanzees in 1990, the population of the species as a whole has continued to deteriorate at an alarming pace. Not only has the split listing failed to conserve wild chimpanzees, it has also caused immense suffering in captive chimpanzees, who are forced to perform demeaning tricks in commercials and movies, used in invasive animal experiments, and kept as pets in wholly unnatural environments.

But there’s good news: the Fish and Wildlife Service recently launched a status review to reexamine the status of captive chimpanzees and possibly reclassify them as “endangered.” FWS has invited the public to comment on this important issue, and is accepting comments through their website or by mail until January 30, 2012.

Join ALDF in urging the FWS to extend endangered status to captive chimpanzees, along with all of the meaningful protections such a listing entails.

Sample Comment

I write in regard to the pending status review of chimpanzees, and specifically to encourage FWS to list the entire pan troglodyte species as endangered. The proposed listing is a long overdue step toward improving the life of captive chimpanzees in the U.S. In addition, it will help to preserve the population and habitat of the pan troglodyte species around the world by calling attention to the plight of the species, and eradicating the destructive double standard that suggests that the U.S. is more concerned with the treatment of chimpanzees on foreign soil than within its own territory.

As the petition amply demonstrates, the pan troglodyte species meets each of the five factors to be considered by FWS in making its listing determination under the Endangered Species Act:

– The natural habitat of the species is threatened with destruction, modification and curtailment by deforesting activities;

– Chimpanzees in their native habitat and in captivity in the U.S. are grossly exploited for food, entertainment, as personal property, and in biomedical and other research;

– The species has been plagued by disease, both in the wild, and in captivity, where healthy chimpanzees have been infected with human diseases for research purposes. In addition, its members are frequently killed when their natural behavior brings them into contact with humans;

– In the 35 years since FWS instituted the split listing of chimpanzees, the condition of the species as a whole has continued to deteriorate at an alarming pace; and

– By permitting the use of chimpanzees in entertainment and research, and allowing them to be kept as pets, the split listing harms captive animals in the U.S. by denying their wild instincts, subjecting them to torture by their human captors, and restricting genetic diversity. That permissive approach also harms chimpanzees in the wild, by trivializing the species and minimizing the seriousness of the threat to its survival.

Please be aware that your comments are public record. All comments
submitted in response to this proposed rule (including any personal
information that is provided) will be included in the record and will be
made available to the public. FNS will make the comments publicly
available on the Internet via

If you prefer to mail your comments to FWS, please address your letter to:

Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R9-ES-2010-0086
Division of Policy and Directives Management
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM
Arlington, VA 22203

Thank you for speaking out for chimpanzees!

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