Fish and Wildlife Service Ends “Split-Listing” of Chimpanzees and Makes All Chimps “Endangered” and Entitled To the Full Protections of the Endangered Species Act.

Today, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced its final decision to end the dual status for chimpanzees under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and to list all chimpanzees – whether in the wild or in captivity – as “endangered” under the Act.  This is a project that was conceived by our Firm many years ago and has finally come to fruition.  On behalf of a coalition of organizations, including the Jane Goodall Institute, the Humane Society of the United States, the New England Anti-Vivisection Society, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance, and the American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquarium, in 2010 we submitted a formal petition to the FWS to end the “split-listing” of chimpanzees by which the captive members of the species were not afforded any of the protections of the ESA.  As explained by the Petition which can be found here, not only was the “split-listing” of the species illegal under the plain language of the statute, but the exploitation of captive chimpanzees has made it more difficult to conserve the wild chimpanzees, by opening up a huge market for these “cute” human-like baby chimpanzees who are then captured from the wild to be sold as pets on the black market.  As Jane Goodall explained in the materials filed with the Petition, capturing a wild baby chimp requires killing its mother and dragging the baby away from her.  The Petition also explains that the wide scale commercial exploitation of captive chimps in this country – in entertainment, on greeting cards, and in other comedic forums –  has also harmed conservation efforts for wild chimps because African countries where the species is in dire need of  protection have lost respect for the United States’ efforts to truly conserve the species.  A copy of the FWS’s final decision can be found here