Chimps may be out as lab animals, pets
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is contemplating classifying all chimps, captive or wild, as endangered.
Scripps Howard News Service
WASHINGTON — Since 1990, the federal government has deemed all wild chimpanzees to be entitled to protection because they are an endangered species. But the feds saw no need to extend that status to the approximately 2,000 captive chimps in the United States.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is contemplating classifying all chimps, captive or wild, as endangered. The agency is collecting opinions from the scientific and medical-research community, private industry and the public on whether such a change is warranted.
If all chimps gain that protection, the estimated 1,000 chimps held by U.S. private and government labs could no longer be used in medical testing. They also would be barred from use by the entertainment industry, and forbidden from being kept in private zoos or as personal pets.
The United States has taken heat in recent years for being the only country, aside from the African nation of Gabon, to allow invasive research on chimps. Wildlife advocates, including primatologist Jane Goodall, have campaigned against such experimentation, and, thanks to technological advances, several large pharmaceutical companies no longer use chimps for testing. The National Institutes of Health considers the animals as subjects of "last resort" for most disease research.
As a result, objection to barring chimps from such experiments is not likely to be as fierce as it might have been a decade ago.
Fish and Wildlife is accepting comments until Jan. 20 at www.regulations.gov.
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