Prohibit Exportation of Chimps to Unaccredited Zoo

Group of chimpanzees feeding on vegetables. Wild animals sitting on grass.

Target: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Director Daniel M. Ashe

Goal: To prohibit the export of chimpanzees to a non-accredited zoo in England.

Chimpanzees share 98.6 percent of their DNA with humans. Chimps feel empathy. They fight. They reconcile. They have an innate morality, once thought to be uniquely humane. Chimpanzees live in social groups of up to several dozen members. They know how to use tools and enjoy fruit, plants, insects, eggs, and meat. Their similarities to humans are vast, but have also caused them to be exploited and subjected to cruel and inhumane biomedical research experiments.

In June of this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) classified all chimpanzees, captive or wild, as endangered. This ruling meant that any biomedical research or exportation of chimps would be subjected to a strict permit process under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In an attempt to sidestep the impending FWS decision, Yerkes National Primate Research Center (Yerkes) announced their intent to “donate” eight chimpanzees to Wingham Wildlife Park (Wingham), an unaccredited zoo in England. If the chimps are exported outside of U.S. territories, they lose the protections granted to them as endangered species.

Animal welfare groups contend that the chimps should stay in the U.S. There are several U.S. sanctuaries that are willing to take the chimpanzees. Wingham is not accredited, has never housed chimpanzees, and has not ruled out the possibility of breeding the donated chimps. Even the European Endangered Species program opposes the move.

Yerkes recently donated seven chimpanzees to the Chattanooga Zoo, but still has 56 chimps for which they are seeking homes. Chimpanzees can live up to 60 years and costs for their care can be as high as one million dollars over their lifetime. Yerkes stated that cost is a consideration in deciding to donate the chimps to Wingham.

The permit is under review by FWS. Wingham offered to donate $10,000 to the Kibale Chimpanzee Project (Kibale) in Uganda to promote the welfare of the species. This is one of the criteria that FWS considers when granting permits. Kibale rejected the offer when it realized that it was only being made as a consideration for the permit. Kibale believes that Yerkes is attempting to avoid financial responsibility for lifetime care of chimpanzees it bred for biomedical research.

Chimpanzees are currently an endangered species. They have been subjected to torturous and brutal biomedical experiments by humans and their numbers in the wild are threatened by hunters and a spreading human population. By signing this petition, you will urge FWS Director Daniel M. Ashe to deny the permit that would allow Yerkes to export the eight chimpanzees to Wingham and hold Yerkes financially responsible for these chimps. There are sanctuaries in the U.S. which are willing to house the chimpanzees. Keep them under protection of their newly-gained rights. Please sign the petition and save ensure a safe and unexploited retirement for the Yerkes chimpanzees.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Director Ashe,

Chimpanzees are humans’ closest evolutionary links, sharing 98.6 percent of our DNA. They have feelings and a sense of morality, previously thought to be a trait unique to humans. Despite these similarities, human beings have cruelly and inhumanely conducted invasive biomedical research experiments on chimpanzees without thought to their well-being.

Now that all chimpanzees are entitled to rights under the Endangered Species Act, Yerkes National Primate Research Center is proposing to export eight chimpanzees that they bred to an unaccredited zoo in England. The United States has several accredited sanctuaries that are willing and able to accept these chimpanzees – Yerkes is merely trying to sidestep their financial obligations for lifetime care.

Chimpanzees deserve our protection and care. We, the undersigned, urge you to deny the permit and prohibit the exportation of the eight chimpanzees from Yerkes to Wingham Wildlife Park. Please ban the exportation of our closest relatives.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Sirylok

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