Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Obama Administration asks: Should we continue double standards giving U.S. captive chimps less protection than wild chimps?

UPDATE 11/1/2011:
Scientists and governments have known for years that chimpanzees are endangered. In 1996, they officially put chimpanzees on the IUCN endangered species list. The U.S. government agrees, chimpanzees are endangered. Normally, when U.S. residents hear that an animal is endangered, according to the Endangered Species Act, they expect the government to actually protect that species. With chimpanzees, however, people’s expectations would be in vain. The U.S. government officially set up a double standard to protect the “rights” of research and entertainment industries (and private individuals and anyone else) to exploit U.S. captive chimpanzees.
Earlier this year, several animal welfare organizations asked the Obama Administration to end the double standard, to give endangered captive chimpanzees the same protections they give to their wild cousins. The Fish and Wildlife Service asked for public comments on the request. On October 31, the Fish and Wildlife Service closed their 90-day comment period, after more than 9600 comments were filed with the agency. On November 1, FWS re-opened the comments for an additional 90 days. FWS says it is "making the petition and the large volume of supporting documents submitted with the petition available to the public."
This should give everyone a chance to see the submissions from the members of the research and entertainment industries. Personally, I can’t wait to explore the comments. I really want to see how these industries justify their desire to keep the double standard, to continue with chimp exploitation business as usual.
The November 1, 2011 Federal Register announcement from FWS
Comments and supporting documents for Docket No. FWS-R9-ES-2010-0086
 From August 31, 2011:
I usually don't print press releases verbatim, but this one is important. The U.S. government wants to hear from you about chimpanzees in captivity!  For excellent background on the debate, see the AAAS Science Journal. The Humane Society has set up an easy way for you to urge the government to protect captive chimpanzees.

(P.S. Note that the American zoo group is a major supporter of this effort to reclassify captive chimpanzees as endangered. I truly believe that the "chimp men" of the old zoos would be immensely proud of today's professionals in the AZA Chimpanzee Species Survival Program. BRAVO, AZA!)  
- Dawn
August 31, 2011
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) will initiate a status review to determine whether reclassifying all captive chimpanzees from threatened to endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is warranted.
Currently, wild chimpanzees are listed as endangered, and captive chimpanzees are listed as threatened. Captive chimpanzees within the United States are covered by a special rule allowing activities otherwise prohibited by the ESA.
Following an initial review of a petition from The Humane Society of the United States, the American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums, the Jane Goodall Institute, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance, the Fund for Animals, Humane Society International, and the New England Anti-Vivisection Society requesting all chimpanzees, whether found in the wild or in captivity,  be listed as endangered, the Service will undertake a more thorough review to determine if the requested action is warranted.
The petition finding does not mean that the Service has decided it is appropriate to list all chimpanzees as endangered under the ESA. Rather, this finding is the first step in a process that triggers a more thorough review of all the biological information available. The finding will publish in the Federal Register on September 1, 2011.
To ensure this status review is comprehensive, the Service is soliciting information from all interested parties regarding the status of this species in the wild and in captivity, including threats to the species and its habitat, information on management programs for chimpanzees, and information relevant to whether any populations of this species may qualify as distinct population segments.
Written comments and information concerning this proposal can be submitted by one of the following methods:
Federal eRulemaking Portal: Follow the instructions for submitting comments to Docket No. [FWS–R9–ES–2010–0086]; or
U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: [FWS–R9–ES–2010–0086]; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042–PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
Comments must be received within 60 days, on or before October 31, 2011. The Service will post all comments on This generally means the agency will post any personal information provided through the process. The Service is not able to accept email or faxes.
Following an analysis of the comments and any new information that may become available during the comment period, the Service will move forward as appropriate with the development of and publication of the status review of this species.
The ESA provides a critical safety net for fish, wildlife and plants and to date has prevented the extinction of hundreds of imperiled species, as well as promoting the recovery of many others. The Service is actively engaged with conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled species. To learn more about the Endangered Species program’s Branch of Foreign Species, visit:

1 comment: