As we previously reported, the notorious Yerkes National Primate Facility at Emory University intends to circumvent the intent of the Endangered Species Act (which now covers captive chimpanzees) by exporting eight chimps to a zoo in the U.K. However, in order to do that lawfully, they will need a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FSW).
That’s where you come in. The law requires FWS to solicit and consider public comments on such permit applications. In order to avoid the fate of being shipped from a research lab to a zoo, where they would be on display for the entertainment of the public rather than receiving the specialized care that they, as trauma survivors, would receive at a sanctuary, the eight chimpanzees need you to add your voice to those who have asked FWS to deny the permit.
The 30 day public comment period expires on November 16, so the chimps need you to act soon.
Here’s the FWS notice listing all of the permit applications on which public comment is being solicited.
The application in question is approximately 3/4 down the page:
Applicant: Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Atlanta, GA; PRT-69024B
The applicant requests a permit to export two male and six female captive-bred chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) to Wingham Wildlife Park, Wingham, United Kingdom, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.
Notice that their application claims that the purpose of the transport is “the enhancement of the survival of the species.” That’s because the only permissible uses of captive chimpanzees under the ESA are those that enhance the survival of the species in some way.
That’s also a ludicrous claim. Wingham Wildlife Park is, in fact, a zoo. “Kent’s Fastest Growing Zoo,” according to its own website. The chimps that Yerkes wants to ship to the zoo will be put on display for purposes of entertaining people, not for in any way enhancing the survival of free-living chimps. Here’s the pic they are using to advertise the anticipated arrival of the survivors of animal research at Yerkes.
To oppose this transport, click the blue “Comment Now” button at the top of the right sidebar of the FWS notice and explain why the permit should not be granted.
Be sure to specify that it is the Yerkes application that you oppose and to state clearly that this export will not enhance the survival of the species. You may wish to highlight that the so-called “wildlife park” is, in fact, a zoo and that the obvious purpose of the proposed transport is entertainment of people.
Go ahead and do that now, if you’re so inspired and feel ready to weigh in.
If you like, come back here and share the text of the comment that you posted, for others to see as an example. (You can also see examples on the FWS page, by clicking on previous comments running down the sidebar.)
Here are a few other things to keep in mind, if you haven’t quite figured out what to say:
If Yerkes succeeds in this sneaky attempt to make sure that the chimps it currently holds captive continue to serve people, the chimps will suffer in many ways. They will be forced to endure a long transatlantic flight. They will be housed in a faculty designed for the pleasure of people rather than the care of traumatized survivors of research. Their lives will be controlled by zookeepers with little or no experience in caring for chimps. And, every day, they will suffer the indignity of being treated as vacation attractions undeserving of privacy or respect.
None of this will in any way enhance the survival of the species. At a sanctuary designed for and devoted to chimpanzees, it is possible for researchers to engage in non-intrusive observation from which it is possible to learn things that might aid the survival of free-living chimps. Sanctuary staff, including veterinarians, also often learn things that are useful in the cause of preserving the species. None of this is possible in a facility that has the primary purpose of amusing the public.
At the Kent zoo, which has published the plans for the chimpanzee housing it intends to build, the chimps will not have access to the extensive foraging space that would allow them any semblance of a wild life in the forest. Instead, they will be crowded together with other chimps the zoo intends to obtain, in a comparatively small space and with the likelihood of constant daytime observation by crowds of noisy people. Therefore, even if there were some plans to observe their behavior, it would not be possible for researchers to learn anything that might help free-living chimps survive.
Seeing chimps in such a set-up is not likely to provoke zoo attendees to have more respect for chimps — quite the contrary. Thus, any claim that putting these chimpanzees on display in this way might lead to increased public support for the restoration of chimp habitat, and therefore would enhance the survival of the species, is specious at best. Nothing on the Wingham Wildlife Park website suggests that the chimps will be brought to the park for any purpose other than amusing the public. And, indeed, that is the only purpose that housing chimps in such a manner could ever serve.
Take action today. Add your voice to those opposing the permit that would allow Yerkes National Primate Research Center to continue to exploit captive chimps, in blatant violation of the intent of the ESA, by shipping them to a U.K. zoo.
Please note: Leaving a comment on this blog does not submit your comment to the federal government. You must click this link and then press the blue “Comment Now!” button to submit your public comment.