Thursday, November 28, 2013

Chimp advocates gave us much to be thankful for this year

I'm thankful that the U.S. is closer to
the day when humans won't put chimps in
clothes to "entertain" us, as the Detroit Zoo
did. (1950 picture of  Joe Mendi II.)
2013 turned out to be a very good year for captive chimpanzees in the United States. Today is Thanksgiving Day in the U.S., and I was thinking about all that I am thankful for…

…Congress passed, and the President signed, legislation that would lift the arbitrary cap on funding to pay for sanctuary care for the retired federal research chimpanzees. This would not have happened without the strong, united voice of a multitude of animal welfare organizations, led by the Humane Society. We all need to watch and support Chimp Haven as it builds new facilities and forms partnerships to provide lifelong and loving care for these chimps.

…Major chimpanzee exploiter Mike Casey – who allegedly used abusive techniques to train his chimpanzees for private parties and store openings, etc. --was finally forced out of business by a conglomeration of forces: a string of local government decisions to not grant him a permit to keep his chimps in residential neighborhoods; lack of business, as a result of a growing public awareness of the abuse chimpanzees are subject to when they are forced into a life of entertainment; and PETA’s constant vigilance and challenges to Casey’s every step.

…Sanctuaries continue to rescue chimpanzees. This year, chimps were saved from unacceptable care, a lonely life without sunshine in a human home, and an unsustainable research program.  The substandard Las Vegas Zoo closed after staff walked out, and solitary chimpanzee Terry was given a new life at Save the Chimps. After living her entire life in a 4x4 indoor cage, Katie was given a new life – with her sisters and brothers, who she never knew! – at the Center for Great Apes. And Canada’s Fauna Foundation was able to provide a new home for Tatu and Loulis after Central Washington University withdrew its financial support for the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute, forcing an end to one of the last ape language projects.

All this, and more, made for a terrific 2013. One more action could really cap off the year: a proper U.S. Fish and Wildlife decision on the endangered status of captive chimpanzees. So many more chimpanzees would be saved from research, entertainment, and “pet” breeding if FWS decides to revoke its double standard of “endangered,” which is granted to chimpanzees in the wild but not to chimps in U.S. captivity.

Animal welfare organizations, sanctuaries, and many zoos will continue to fight the good fight for captive U.S. chimps. I thank you all.

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