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Yerkes 8 Update: Public Comments Needed Now!

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.

13 comments to Yerkes 8 Update: Public Comments Needed Now!

  • Rae Sikora
    Applicant: Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Atlanta, GA; PRT-69024B
    Please do not issue the permit for these primates to be transferred to a zoo. They should go to a primate rescue/sanctuary that understands how to deal with traumatized animals. Please do not send them to serve more selfish human purposes. Thank you.
  • Dallas Rising
    This comment is in reference to the 8 chimpanzees currently being kept at Yerkes National Primate Research Center.

    These sensitive, intelligent, social, emotional animals have been subjected to years of torture, eumpamisticaly called “research”. Due to the gross negligence and carelessness of our species, chimpanzees have now beed added to the endangered species list. It is for this reason that they are no longer legally allowed to be experimented on in laboratories. However, it seems that some humans still haven’t examined their own negligence and callousness as it applies to individuals of the species despite their changed legal status.

    The proposal to move the “Yerkes 8” to Kent “Wildlife Park” is insulting and cruel. Kent’s name may imply that their concern is for wildlife, but they are nothing more than a glorified zoo. Their aim is to make profit from exhibiting animals on the endangered species list to people for entertainment purposes. They have no plan that could conceivably be interpreted as an attempt at an “enhancement of the survival of the species”, which is the only legal way they could get away with getting these animals into their zoo.

    These eight individuals have been traumatized by the years of deprivation and violence they have endured at Yerkes. They need to be at a sanctuary with dedicated, educated staff and resources capable of helping them to heal. In addition, they would be given the dignity and respect of privacy while they do so. People who specialize in caring for primates will be able to give them the best possible care as well as be the most qualified to humanely gather information that may be able to contribute to the betterment of the entire species – by quiet, non-invasive, consistent observation. At Kent, they would be kept in enclosures designed to maximize the ability of paying customers to see them for a short while – gaining no substantive knowledge or appreciation for the animals they’re looking at or the species over all. Indeed, it is impossible to learn anything of value about these animals while continuing to exploit them for profit and greed.

    I urge you to make certain that the Endangered Species Act is enforced as written and not allow this transparent attempt to stretch this critical legislation into a perverse and distorted excuse to further torment these animals who have already endured horrendous treatment at the hands of humans.

  • bravebird
    We trust that these are copies of comments made via the federal website.

    Thanks to everyone who follows the link to add their voice, and especial thanks to those who then share the text of what they wrote here, for others to see as examples.

  • pattrice
    Here’s what I wrote:

    Wingham Wildlife Park bills itself as “Kent’s Fastest Growing Zoo” and has used the attached picture to advertise the return of chimps, clearly portrayed as entertainers, to this amusement park.

    The purpose of the proposed export of chimps currently held captive at Yerkes National Primate Research Center is, therefore, amusement of the people of Kent. This is QUITE clear from the promotional materials put out by the zoo, which make no mention of any effort whatsoever to understand or preserve the species.

    If this permit were to be given, eight survivors of animal research at Yerkes would be placed on display to be gawped at by noisy crowds whilst housed in a facility that in no way resembles natural chimp habitat.

    Observation of the behavior of research survivors in such an unnatural setting would not allow anyone to learn anything that might be substantially helpful to the preservation of free-living chimpanzees.

    The people of Kent are not in a position to in any way substantially contribute to the preservation of free-living chimpanzees or the habitat upon which they depend. Even if they were, observation of traumatized research survivors presented as entertainers of people would not be likely to inculcate the respect necessary to motivate behavior.

    Therefore, permit request PRT-69024B must be denied in that the proposed transport would violate the Endangered Species Act. Furthermore, Yerkes should be censured for this blatant attempt to circumvent the ESA. In claiming that the purpose of the transport is “preservation of the species” when, in fact, the purpose is entertainment of the public, Yerkes National Primate Research Center has committed perjury.

  • Seba
    Please consider the quality of life for these traumatized chimpanzees. At the Kent zoo the chimpanzees will not have access to the extensive foraging space that would allow them any semblance of a wild life in the forest. These individuals NEED to be placed in a sanctuary where they will be treated with care, dignity, and the freedom to roam vs being gawked at constantly by loud children and adults. Give them the peace they deserve – haven’t they already suffered enough?
  • erika Schiegg
    Please do the right thing and place these primates in sanctuary
  • Lynn Thomasberg
    The only right thing to do is place these 8 chimpanzees who have suffered so greatly at the hands of humans is to put them in a sanctuary. Being stared at and shouted at every day by many, many humans would do nothing to heal the psychological wounds inflicted upon them. They need a quiet place to live out their lives with room to roam and rest in a natural setting in the care of qualified staff.
  • Jeannie Guckeen
    I left a comment but did not copy and paste it. I hope that there is enough public opinion to save these chimps.
  • Lisa Robertson
    I object to the proposed application by the Yerkes National Primate Facility at Emory University that seeks permission to export 2 male and 6 female captive-bred chimpanzees to the Wingham Wildlife Park in the UK. I dispute the application’s assertion that sending the chimpanzees to the Park will enhance the survival of the species. Nor is the Park a park, but is, in fact, a zoo. If sent, the chimpanzees would become spectacles for the enjoyment of humans. This is unjust. The real purpose behind the Yerkes’ application is to circumvent the Endangered Species Act which now covers captive chimpanzees. Please reject/deny the Yerkes permit application.
  • Guy Valentine
    Please, please reconsider relegating these chimpanzees to the Kent Zoo in the UK. I recently spent some life-changing time in Lop Buri, Thailand (the most densely human-and-chimpanzee shared urban environment on the planet), and discovered what sensitive, alive, freedom-loving beings chimpanzees are. This awareness quite literally changed my understanding of life on earth. Please consider the life (the misery) they’ve undergone for the entirety of their unhappy lives so far, all at the hands of humans with no consideration for the individuality and respect owed to these curious, passionate, emotional beings. I anticipate there are many complications of bureaucracy regarding their relocation. But if you as an individual involved in this have any power to influence their fate, please consider what you would prefer for yourself in their position and do what you can to soften their fate. Please do what you can to provide a freer gentler, more fulfilling life for them. In a sense, probably nothing in the world matters more — definitely not to them. Sincerely, G. Valentine
  • Eddie
    Have any of you been to Wingham? Have any of you spoken to Wingham? Having worked there on the construction of the chimpanzee enclosure all I have seen is love, commitment, and compassion for all the animals, it is a huge enclosure far far bigger than were these chimps have been kept in the good old USA. Let them enjoy there life where they will be CARED for
  • pattrice
    The people at the Wingham zoo may well feel love and compassion, but they do not have the expertise to care for chimpanzees who will arrive with the physical and psychological scars of being used as research tools. The enclosure may be larger than the cramped confines at Yerkes, but does not come close to the expanses offered at Chimp Haven and other sanctuaries dedicated to chimpanzees (all of which DO have extensive expertise in helping chimps adjust after life in the lab). Finally, as a matter of ethics, these chimps should not continue to be used as tools, which they would be by being put on exhibit for the frivolous purpose of entertainment of people. They have their own projects and purposes, and they deserve the privacy they will need to become themselves after living lives of indignity at Yerkes.

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