Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, June 12, 2015

Contact: Tara Easter, (971) 717-6408;

Chimpanzees Gain Broader Endangered Species Act Protection

New Rule Extends Endangered Status to Animals in Captivity

WASHINGTON— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today it will start classifying all chimpanzees, both wild and captive, as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

Photo courtesy Flickr/Buffa. Photos are available for media use.

The new rule extends greater protection to captive chimpanzees by changing their protective status from “threatened” to “endangered” — the same status of chimpanzees in the wild. The new designation, which will be published on June 16,  will bring additional restrictions on commercial activities and will ensure humane treatment for captive chimps.

“It’s wonderful news that all chimpanzees now have the endangered status that these highly intelligent and imperiled primates need to survive,” said Tara Easter, a scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Protecting captive chimps as endangered is the morally correct thing to do, and it will also help safeguard the species in the wild.”

Threats to wild chimpanzees have increased in recent years. They face ongoing habitat loss, deforestation, disease and capture for the pet trade. Wild populations were listed as endangered in 1990, but captive populations received the less protective status of threatened. A coalition of organizations, spearheaded by the Jane Goodall Institute, petitioned the Service in 2010 to protect all chimpanzees as endangered.

Protecting captive chimps as endangered will help curtail the illegal capture and sale of wild chimps and will prohibit certain activities, including importing or exporting animals without a permit. Permits will be issued only for scientific purposes that benefit the species in the wild or for activities that contribute to improved management and recovery.

Chimpanzees — which are humankind’s closest living relative in the animal kingdom — live in 22 countries of equatorial Africa.

The final rule will go into effect in September.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Go back