A hearing was held yesterday on the Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction to halt the export of eight chimpanzees from Yerkes Research Center to an unaccredited zoo in England, Wingham Wildlife Park. (Please see our previous blogs about this for the full story). The hearing was held in federal district court in D.C. before the Honorable Kentanji Brown Jackson who asked pointed questions about the Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to permit the export in exchange for Yerkes and Wingham promising to contribute money to an organization working on human health and population control in Africa. The hearing lasted over three hours. Although Yerkes had originally told the Judge it needed a decision on Plaintiffs’ motion by the end of this week, it reversed course by the close of the hearing and agreed not to export the chimpanzees until the Judge can review the entire record and rule on the merits, which will not happen until September. Meanwhile, yet another U.S. sanctuary – the new 236-acre Project Chimps in Georgia, just a stone’s throw away from Yerkes -- announced that it has plenty of room to accommodate all 55 of Yerkes’ remaining chimpanzees, and the Plaintiffs continue to urge Yerkes to send the chimpanzees to a U.S. Sanctuary so that they will not be subjected to the commercial exploitation that awaits them at Wingham. Sadly, Plaintiffs learned in a footnote in Yerkes’ brief to the Court that one of the eight chimpanzees, 20-year old Abby, died in February, from “congestive heart failure” – information that was not previously disclosed to the Plaintiffs, even though the Plaintiffs have submitted numerous Freedom of Information Act requests to the FWS for all information pertaining to this matter, and have consistently been told that the agency has “no responsive records.” The case will now go forward on cross-motions for summary judgment, with all briefing to be concluded by August 17, 2016 and a ruling expected in late August or early September.
Photo courtesy of Fulla T