The U.S government on Friday announced that all Chimpanzees will be protected under the Endangered Species Act. The move is aimed at protecting chimps from capturing or selling, especially apes in captivity.
The decision follows a 2013 proposal by US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), to provide a distinction between captive and wild chimpanzees. The ruling will come into effect in September 14. Wild chimpanzees were listed as an endangered species in 1990, and captive apes were classified as a threatened species, carrying fewer protections. Chimps will now be illegal to import or export without permits, and those with permits will be authorized only for research and conservation efforts.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Director Dan Ashe said in a statement:
“This was an attempt to encourage captive breeding of chimpanzees and thus reduce incentives to capture the great apes in their African habitats. Extending captive chimpanzees the protections afforded their endangered cousins in the wild will ensure humane treatment and restrict commercial activities under the Endangered Species Act. The decision responds to growing threats to the species and aligns the chimpanzee’s status with existing legal requirements. Meanwhile, we will continue to work with range states to ensure the continued survival and recovery of chimpanzees in the wild.”
About 1,724 captive chimpanzees are in the U.S, out of which 730 reside in labs. The new law will impose restrictions for chimpanzees used for commercial purposes, and humane treatment will have to be applied by professional caretakers. Tara Easter of the Center for Biological Diversity said that this is great news for the chimpanzees to be placed under the protection of the Endangered Species Act since this is exactly what they need for these imperiled, intelligent animals to survive.
Chimpanzees are caught in the wild and they are usually taken when they are young as pets. Though they are easy to raise, they eventually become aggressive to the caretaker as they become older. Chimps who’s owners give them up to zoos or reserve lack the skills to live with others, and are alienated in the process. Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society, said that there aren’t enough funds to protect retired chimps. He added that primate organizations like NIH and Congress need to collaborate on providing funding and a place for these chimpanzees who served humanity in involuntary ways.[ Source ] [ Via ]