BOSTON, Nov. 17, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS), a national animal advocacy organization, and its coalition, submitted comments to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) opposing an export permit for Yerkes National Primate Research Center (Yerkes) "donating" eight chimpanzees - Lucas, Fritz, Agatha, Tara, Faye, Elvira, Georgia - to Wingham Wildlife Park (Wingham), an unaccredited U.K. zoo. This September, FWS up-listed captive chimpanzees to "endangered" under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Yerkes must demonstrate export, "enhance(s) propagation or survival of the species."
NEAVS' coalition contends Yerkes' application contains incorrect representations and fails to disclose information material to FWS's decision. Concerns include Wingham lacking membership in the European Species Survival Program (EEP) for chimpanzees. NEAVS' coalition (former Yerkes' caregivers, chimpanzee sanctuaries' Primate Rescue Center, Fauna Foundation, Friends of Washoe, Jungle Friends, CHIMPS, Inc., and Cruelty Free International) as well as American Association of Zoos and Aquariums, U.S. Species Survival Plan, EEP, and former laboratory veterinarians, posted opposition.
During FWS' up-listing announcement, Director Ashe admitted it had been a "mistake" not to afford captive chimpanzees ESA protections, which thereby "encouraged a culture that treats these animals as a commodity." According to NEAVS, split-listing allowed chimpanzees' indiscriminate research use. Endangered status allows only research directly beneficial to species survival. Yerkes and FWS emails indicate Yerkes unsuccessfully applied for a permit before the up-listing. It now has to meet higher restrictions, including the 30-day public comment period that ended yesterday.
Theodora Capaldo, Ed.D., NEAVS' president says, "Our comments demonstrate Yerkes' hasn't met requirements to export an endangered species." adding, "EU chimpanzees need placements. There's no need to export U.S. chimpanzees rather than allow them U.S. sanctuary protection." NEAVS warned allowing export could open the door to other labs sending chimpanzees anywhere in the world.
NEAVS' coalition notes Wingham has never provided for chimpanzees. And are concerned Wingham may breed progeny who could end up on display or otherwise commercially exploited. Once exported, the ESA loses authority. Accredited U.S. sanctuaries can provide homes and NEAVS pledges lifetime care to Georgia, the matriarch.
Yerkes' decision is, according to Capaldo, "Irresponsible and would allow these chimpanzees to continue to be used 'as a commodity' – in direct contravention of FWS affording captive chimpanzees full ESA protections."
NEAVS' coalition (comments) are represented by Washington, D.C. public interest firm, Meyer Glitzenstein & Eubanks.