By Anne Deschamps
On June 12, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a proposed rule to list all chimpanzees (captive and wild) as endangered. The proposed rule came in response to a September 2011 petition from the Humane Society of the United States and seven other groups, arguing that the lack of regulation of captive chimpanzees in the U.S. negatively affects wild populations of the species by fueling illegal trafficking and undermining conservation efforts.
Currently, chimpanzees are “split-listed” under the Endangered Species Act, with captive chimpanzees listed as threatened and wild chimpanzees as endangered. Because captive chimpanzees are listed as threatened, a special rule currently allows for their use in biomedical research. Changing the status of captive chimpanzees from “threatened” to “endangered” would negate this special exemption and make it necessary to obtain a special permit in order to conduct biomedical research on chimpanzees. FASEB will be working with its Animals in Research and Education Subcommittee to develop comments on the proposed rule, which are due on or before August 12.