By Anne Deschamps
Earlier this month, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) responded to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) proposed rule to list all chimpanzees as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Currently, wild chimpanzees are listed as “endangered,” and captive chimpanzees are listed as “threatened.” Because captive chimpanzees are listed as threatened, a special rule currently allows for their use in biomedical research. Changing their status from threatened to endangered would negate this special exemption and make it necessary to obtain a special permit in order to conduct most biomedical research on captive chimpanzees.
In the letter to FWS, FASEB expressed concern that changing the status of captive chimpanzees to endangered would limit their use in biomedical research to improve both human and chimpanzee health. In the event that the proposed rule became final, the Federation strongly encouraged FWS to grant permits for biomedical research involving chimpanzees aimed at preventing or treating human diseases. The final rule is expected in about 12 months.