In a move that effectively bans lab experiments on chimpanzees, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated the whole species, both wild and in captivity, as endangered. Wild apes have long been listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, but now chimps housed in research facilities across the country will have the same protection. The designation was announced last week but won’t take effect until September.
This ends the long brutal history of poking, prodding, slicing, dosing, skull-drilling, electro-shocking, isolating and otherwise mistreating chimps. It also ends their usefulness as lab animals, which will lead to the closure of whatever few breeding programs are left. With chimpanzees in the wild getting slaughtered for bush meat, losing their homes to deforestation, suffering from Ebola and other human-introduced plagues, and with the world’s captive chimps no longer reproducing, there’s a real a chance we’ll face a no-chimp future within fifty years.
If they knew how badly we were going to treat them, they probably never would have come.