The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced September 1, 2011, that the agency will begin reviewing the status of chimpanzees under the Endangered Species Act. The review process ultimately will determine whether the U.S. government provides the same level of protection for chimpanzees that are captive in the United States as it does for wild chimpanzees.
The decision to initiate a review follows last year’s submission of a legal petition by a coalition of organizations that included the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) and a number of other conservation and animal welfare groups requesting that all chimpanzees, including those in the wild and in captivity, be listed as “endangered.” USFWS noted that the petition presents “substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing all chimpanzees as endangered may be warranted.”
Currently, wild chimpanzees are listed as “endangered” and captive chimpanzees are listed as “threatened.” Chimpanzees are the only species the U.S. government “split-lists,” or lists in two separate conservation categories. Under U.S. law, the endangered status carries with it a wide range of protections under the Endangered Species Act, while threatened species are afforded fewer protections. The weaker listing for captive chimpanzees allows them to be used for invasive medical research, entertainment and advertising, and as pets.
The USFWS finding opens a somewhat lengthy process involving a public comment period, further analysis by the USFWS, a second finding and, hopefully, a proposed ruling in favor of increasing protections for captive chimpanzees.
Source: Jane Goodall Institute