Testing on Chimpanzees Ends; Species Now Listed as Endangered
September 14, 2015 was so much more than a Monday for chimpanzees in the United States and animal rights advocates around the world. On that very significant day earlier this week, chimpanzees officially became an “endangered species”. This means that in addition to new measures to protect them, they can no longer be used as laboratory animals to be tested on. The announcement released from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stated:
“Threats to the chimpanzee, including habitat loss, poaching, and disease, have intensified and expanded since wild populations were listed as endangered in 1990. These threats are exacerbated by an increasing human population, the expansion of settlements, and increasing pressure on natural resources to meet the needs of the growing human population.”
As of the 14th, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has ruled that it is now illegal to use any wild or captive chimpanzee and involve them in any action that would harm, harass or kill them–such as in vivisection practices or as performing animals. It is also against the law to sell chimpanzees in any pet trade, including in commercial transport that crosses state lines. Prior to this ruling, the United States was actually the only developed country in the world that still used chimpanzees in experiments. Research labs had been given a window of opportunity in order to apply for exceptions to the ruling, but none of them decided to go forward with applications.
This ruling is a major win for chimpanzees used in bio-medical research as well as in the entertainment industry and the exotic animal trade. For the 745 chimpanzees who are currently in U.S. laboratories, they will soon be transferred to sanctuaries, where they can live out the rest of their lives away from harm that has plagued their lives so far.
While there were no requests for exceptions to this ruling, any laboratory, menagerie, or exotic pet dealer that may plan to use chimpanzees in any of the above-mentioned illegal acts must now first obtain a permit. However, the Endangered Species Act only allows permits to be issued when the request would actually enhance the survival of the species in the wild.
Jane Goodall, primatologist who has been researching chimpanzees for 55 years, reflected on the ruling and stated:
“This decision gives me hope that we truly have begun to understand that our attitudes toward treatment of our closest living relatives must change. I congratulate the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for this very important decision.”
Photo Credit: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/files/2015/06/Chimpanzee_Family.jpg