The US Fish and Wildlife Service announced recently that all chimpanzees will now be protected under the Endangered Species Act. The move eliminates the distinction between chimpanzees in captivity—whom were previously considered threatened—and those in the wild, who have been considered endangered for years. The amendment follows a petition Jane Goodall, The Humane Society of the United States, and other groups filed in 2010. Moving forward, researchers and those who trade and import/export chimpanzees must receive permits from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and “demonstrate that their research would be directly and substantially supporting the conservation of chimpanzees in the wild.” Today, more than 900 chimpanzees live in laboratories in the US and are subject to biomedical experimentation to test the effects of diseases, diets, and cognition in humans. The National Institutes of Health reports most of these tests are unnecessary and have “rarely accelerated new discoveries or the advancement of human health for infectious diseases.”
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