News & Alerts

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Proposes New Protective Status for Captive Chimpanzees

UPDATE: In June 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would give the same protections to chimpanzees held in captivity as it does their free-living cousins in Africa! Learn more.

In June 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced a proposal to protect all chimpanzees under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) – whether free living in Africa or held in a U.S. lab or other captive situations.

Read NEAVS comments submitted to FWS here.

In March 2010, a diverse coalition of organizations petitioned FWS to take action and "uplist" captive chimpanzees to endangered from their current threatened status consistent with the goals of the ESA. Petitioners included the Humane Society of the United States, the New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS), the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Jane Goodall Institute, the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Fund for Animals, and Humane Society International.

Free-living chimpanzees
Free-living chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania, Africa (NEAVS)

The FWS decision awaits a 60-day public comment period. Once finalized, captive chimpanzees’ new endangered status will place them alongside their free-living relatives in Africa. As such, research not benefiting the survival of the species would be prohibited, adding yet another barrier to wanton, unnecessary, and non-productive research purportedly to benefit human health. By listing all chimpanzees as endangered, the FWS findings will more consistently promote the conservation of the species as intended by the ESA.  

"Chimpanzees in U.S. labs will be one step closer to being prohibited from indiscriminate use in human-directed research once appropriately listed as endangered,” says NEAVS President Theodora Capaldo, EdD. “NEAVS' Project R&R: Release and Restitution for Chimpanzees in U.S. Labs campaign has focused on several routes to end the use of chimpanzees and all great apes in U.S. research. While we would like to have seen a one-punch knockout to research on chimpanzees, an institution long overdue for dismantling, in reality ending the use of chimpanzees is being accomplished one major step at a time. Like the Institute of Medicine’s finding that 'most current biomedical research use of chimpanzees is not necessary' and the NIH's Council of Councils recommendation that nearly all federally owned or supported chimpanzees be retired to sanctuary, this USFWS decision continues momentum toward the inevitable protection of the first non-human species from research."

Note: The comment period is now closed.

Take Action

FWS needs to hear from you in support of listing U.S. captive chimpanzees as endangered during its 60-day comment period. Deadline is Aug. 12. Click here to add your comments in support of making the proposed endangered listing a reality!

For more background, visit our Endangered vs. Threatened webpage.