A Friday decision of the US Fish and Wildlife Service has ensured that the species act protection now broadens to include all chimps. Thanks to this new development, chimpanzees the world over, both in the wild and in captivity, are considered endangered.
This decision has been a long time coming. In 2010, the Humane Society filed a petition through Jane Goodall. The petition had attempted to eliminate the distinction between in-the-wild chimps and captive chimps. Captive chimpanzees had been considered “threatened” and not endangered.
According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, this decision will ensure that captive chimpanzees are extended the same humane treatment as wild chimps should receive. As such, commercial activities should now be restricted. For one, import and export of the animals will no longer be allowed.
Logically, other activities, such as harming, harassing, injuring or killing the animals are prohibited.
On June 16, this new distinction will be published and starting then, the new restrictions will be enforced.
Tara Easter, Center for Biological Diversity scientist, is thrilled with the new designation as it ensures that all chimpanzees, not only those in the wild, are protected. This decision reflects the need to conform with the morally correct thing to do.
In the past, these majestic creatures were only treated as commodities. But despite the efforts of encouraging breeding, captive chimps have failed to expand their numbers.
Most activities involving chimps will require special permits which can be obtained if the applicant can prove that the chimp is required to partake in scientific. Permits may also be granted to those who can prove they can contribute to making the chimpanzee population more secure.
This recent decision of extending the endangered distinction to captive chimps follows another pro-chimp decision in 2013. Back then, the National Institute of Health decided to steer away from using the animals for medical research purposes.
Explaining the 2013 decision, the NIH stated that it hoped to significantly reduce the number of chimps used for biomedical research.
As compared to the early 1900’s, when chimpanzee populations numbered approximately one million specimens, there are only 300,000 chimps left worldwide.
Hopefully, the FWS’s decision will contribute to a reduction in illegal chimp captures and sales and indirectly, to an increase in the chimps’ numbers.
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