U.S. To Tighten Chimp Protections

Could end research

    Photo: Aaron Logan

A plan by U.S. wildlife officials to declare captive chimpanzees as endangered could tighten restrictions on the use of chimps for medical research and entertainment, ending a decades-long split between the way the government regulates captive chimps and their wild-born cousins.

Authored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the proposal would require people utilizing, killing, or transporting chimps to apply for a federal permit. According to USA Today, while animal rights advocates have applauded the decision, some research groups have come out against it.

"Human and chimpanzee lives will be lost as a result of the reclassification. It is as simple and tragic as that," said Texas Biomedical Research Institute spokesperson Joe Carey. "We don't know what pandemic diseases, for which chimpanzees will be the only valid animal model, will arise in the future, but we can be certain that more of them will arise."

The separate classifications for wild and captive chimps date back to 1990, when the animals were thought to be ideal test subjects for HIV and AIDS research. Scientists have since discovered that the animals are of limited use, since they don't respond to the disease in the same way as humans.

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