In our legal petition, we submitted scientific evidence showing that "split-listing" of chimpanzees was not only bad for captive chimps but that it was also bad for wild chimpanzees. In the last 30 years, populations of wild chimpanzees have fallen by 66 percent primarily due to habitat loss and poaching, which is driven in part by the exploitation of captive chimpanzees in the US. Furthermore, there is evidence that their exploitation leads people to think that this majestic species doesn't need to be conserved. After all, animals dressed in tutus couldn't actually be under threat of extinction, right?
In response to our petition, the Service announced in 2011 that sufficient evidence was presented to warrant an official review, and in 2013 issued the proposed rule, finalized today, to list all chimpanzees as endangered under the ESA. Again, this was a campaign years in the making - like so many of our efforts - and we stayed the course and made a case that was hard to deny.
The last few years have brought amazing progress toward ending invasive research on chimpanzees and now our sights are set on retiring those chimpanzees to sanctuary. Last summer, we celebrated the retirement of all 110 federally owned chimpanzees from New Iberia Research Center to Chimp Haven, the national chimpanzee sanctuary in Louisiana. These chimpanzees are now able to bask in the sun and form lasting bonds as part of large social groups. Witnessing their transition from lab to sanctuary is truly heartwarming and it reminds us why we work so hard to make a difference in the lives of animals.