Two days ago on June 12, 2015, the United States government is now considering chimpanzees used for research as an endangered species through the Endangered Species Act. This means that researchers cannot use chimps for medical experiments as freely as they have before. Before this adjustment, “The United States is the only major country that still funds invasive chimpanzee research,” according to Nature Publishing Group. The only way that chimpanzees can be used now is if the person has a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Many regulations for research using chimp have been made such as “work enhances the survival of the species and benefits chimps in the wild”, if the chimp is being used for human purposes it must be crucial to a human disease, the researcher must somehow support chimpanzee preservation, and follow standard research protocol such as applying for project approval and undergoing inspections (AAAS).
This change has affected many different people in positive and negative ways. For animal rights groups and specific chimpanzee groups like the Jane Goodall Institute, it is a huge success for something they have been working towards for many years. The director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was quoted at the press conference announcing this decision, “This decision will help us ensure that the world we pass along to our children and grandchildren will be filled with chimpanzees. We believe this action will ensure that activities affecting all chimpanzees will contribute to the survival of chimpanzees in the wild,” (AAAS). The chimps being released from laboratories will be sent to available sanctuaries since there is no possible way of letting them go into the wild.
For laboratories using chimpanzees for research, this modification will somewhat affect their work. If they wish to continue using chimps they have to apply for strict permits and be subject to more inspections, as well as supply some type of funding to protect wild chimpanzees. An anatomist at Stony Brook University, Susan Larson, was quoted, “This is going to make it increasingly difficult to get these projects off the ground,” (AAAS). But Larson is in the minority because many other institutions who have done chimpanzee research in the past are okay with this change in chimp status. There is a lot of recent new technology, such as in vitro testing using cells grown in a petri dish, which can replace the use of animal testing. If chimp research is absolutely vital to the development and the betterment of human life then they can apply for a permit. Many research facilities have actually already gotten rid of animal testing due to pressure from animal rights groups and popular public opinion.
Although animal testing has led to many scientific discoveries and advancements for humanity, we are now at a point in time that scientists can agree that it is not entirely necessary. This change from research chimpanzees to endangered animals will not have a large effect on human life and is a positive step for animal rights.