Monday, 12 August 2013

America's Fleeting Chance to Correct Chimps' Endangered Status (Op-Ed)

Brian Hare is director of the Ape Research Consortium and an associate professor in Evolutionary Anthropology at the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at Duke University. Vanessa Woods is the author of Bonobo Handshake and is a research scientist at Duke University. Hare and Woods contributed this article to LiveScience's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.
These young chimps were captured as part of the

 illegal trade in great apes. Such crimes remove 3,000
 critically endangered great apes from the wild each year.
Credit: Debby Cox, Jane Goodall Institute

Chimpanzees are the only endangered species denied full protection under the endangered species act. When chimpanzees living in Africa were recognized as an endangered species in the late 1980s, the biomedical community successfully lobbied to prevent captive chimpanzees living in the United States from receiving that new protection.

This week, we have a chance to finally fix that injustice. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has asked for public comment until Aug. 12 on whether the United States should provide protection to all chimpanzees under the endangered species act.

America fell in love with chimpanzees as a result of the pioneering research of Jane Goodall. Through private and public support, Americans became the major force protecting wild chimpanzees in Africa as well as captive chimpanzees in the United States. With this support, three generations of researchers have followed in Goodall's footsteps. These researchers have revealed exactly how similar the social lives of wild chimpanzees are to our own, how complex the problems are that chimpanzees can solve and what this all means for our own species' place in nature.

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