NEAVS and its coalition of sanctuaries and chimpanzee experts filed a new lawsuit against U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) in response to its recent notification of its intent to issue Yerkes’ export permit to ship Abby, Agatha, Elvira, Faye, Fritz, Lucas, Tara and Georgia – The Yerkes’ 8 – out of the protection of the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) to Wingham Wildlife Park, an unaccredited zoo in the U.K. A previous 2015 lawsuit filed by NEAVS et al., led to FWS retracting its first permit and re-opening this last public comment period.
TELL FWS DIRECTOR, DAN ASHE
FWS’s recent decision to re-issue an export permit -- contrary to overwhelming U.S. and worldwide opposition from conservationists, chimpanzee experts and species survival programs -- fosters a climate of distrust that FWS is NOT fulfilling its mandate, and undermines the credibility of Director Dan Ashe’s June 2015 promise to provide captive chimpanzees, now listed as endangered, “the highest levels of protections under the ESA.” He called captive chimpanzees’ decades of having been listed as only a “threatened” species a “mistake” that had fostered a culture of treating them as a “commodity.” Instead, under his watch, FWS's decision to grant Yerkes’ permit continues allowing federally protected, endangered species to be used as a private commodity in a commercial enterprise.
“Permitting” Abby, Agatha, Elvira, Faye, Fritz, Lucas, Tara and Georgia to be shipped from a lab to being on exhibition for private profit is not the “highest levels of protections”, but rather a convenience for Yerkes and a significant source of income for Wingham.
The ESA requires that a permit should be issued ONLY if the export itself will benefit the survival of the species in the wild. Yerkes export to Wingham clearly DOES NOT fulfil this requirement.
Meanwhile, Yerkes continues to ignore offers from five U.S. licensed, accredited, professional and experienced chimpanzee sanctuaries, which are willing to accept the Yerkes’ 8 -- where they would live in safe, naturalistic settings and avoid the trauma of a transatlantic flight only to be placed on exhibition and endure the gawking visiting public of, Wingham boasts, 250,000+ people each year.
FWS cannot be allowed to continue down this dangerous path. If this transfer takes place, it will have far-reaching consequences for the Yerkes' 8 and ALL animals purportedly ‘protected’ under the ESA.
NEAVS and our coalition members are continuing with every legal channel available to stop FWS from enabling Yerkes to rid itself of unwanted chimpanzees in this manner and allowing Wingham a new money making “commodity”.
THANK YOU for asking Director Ashe to use his leadership to stop this transfer, uphold the integrity of the important message he gave one year ago, and do the right thing by the Yerkes’ 8 and ALL endangered animals.
For the animals,
Theodora Capaldo, EdD
President and CEO, NEAVS