What Does It Mean For Every Chimp, Even the Ones in Captivity, to be ‘Endangered’?

All chimpanzees – both in the wild and in captivity – are officially protected as “endangered species” under the Endangered Species Act.

This means it is now against the law to harm, harass, kill or injure any chimp, wild or captive. It brings an end to decades of exploitation and abuse, from using chimps in biomedical research and lab testing to using them as props for entertainment and selling them in the wildlife trade. All chimps will be sent to sanctuaries and rescue centers to spend the rest of their years in much better living conditions.

Photo by Ryan Summers / CC BY-SA 2.0
Photo by Ryan Summers / CC BY-SA 2.0

The rule follows a petition filed in 2010 by Dr. Jane Goodall, The Humane Society of the United States and other groups, to eliminate the distinction between the legal status of captive and wild chimps. Before, the former were listed as “threatened” while the latter were “endangered.” But the change became official on June 16 and went into effect on September 14, after a 90-day grace period.

So now, all chimps have the same protections under the Endangered Species Act, making Goodall – founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, UN Messenger of Peace and one of the biggest chimp-advocates – very happy. In a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service press release, Goodall said:

“I was so pleased to hear about the proposed rule. This is exceptional news for all chimpanzees and for all the petitioners, especially the Humane Society of the United States, who have worked so hard on this issue. 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.”

 
 
Featured image by Rod Waddington / CC BY-SA 2.0

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