Chimpanzees in the wild have been protected by the Endangered Species Act for nearly twenty-five years, but the same doesn’t hold true for captive ones. That fact recently changed on Friday with the passage of new rues by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. This rule change signified the end of both legal testing on chimps and the only split listing in Endangered Species Act history.
Split listing in Endangered Species Act was meant for the benefit of US research.
Until the passage of the new rules, the United States was the last developed country to have legal medical research on chimps. The practice of experimentation on apes was prohibited years ago in European countries, although they continue to conduct a large amount of research on smaller primates such as spider monkeys and rhesus macaques. The US was under pressure from animal rights groups and considering following the trend in 2013, when new findings helped fan the flames of change. The findings by the Institute of Medicine and an NIH (National Institute of Health) advisory panel advised that chimpanzees were no longer needed for research into human medicine. At the beginning of 2013, they made a proposal to begin cutting down on chimp use and sending them into retirement.
Plan from 2013 is now coming to fruition.
The plan was to reduce the number of chimps housed at NIH facilities around the country, cutting the number down from 400 to 50 and placing the rest in special sanctuaries. The 50 remaining ones are earmarked to be used for research, in case they may still be needed.
Animal rights activists applaud NIH decision.
The way animal rights activists are responding to the new laws is in stark contrast to their unhappiness with chimpanzee treatment as early as a few weeks ago. In late May, activists with the Nonhuman Rights Project argued before a New York State Supreme Court that two research chimps at a SUNY college were entitled to legal protection and should be released, citing the chimps’ intelligence and even culture as proof that their species deserves more of the rights given to our own. Now, activists like those of the Humane Society and Jane Goodall are strongly praising the move.