The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced recently that it was considering a petition to end the so-called split-listing of chimpanzees, and declare all chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) an endangered species, regardless of whether they are living in captivity or in the wild.

Since 1990, under a special rule issued by USFWS, wild chimpanzees have been considered an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act, but captive chimpanzees were listed as threatened. This rule allowed captive chimpanzees in the US to be freely used in biomedical research, entertainment, and the pet trade despite their species’ status as endangered in the wild. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums (AZA), the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA), the Fund for Animals (FFA), Humane Society International (HSI), and the New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS), collectively submitted a petition in 2010 to the USFWS to end the split listing. Save the Chimps’ Sanctuary Director Jen Feuerstein submitted a declaration in support of the petition.

FWS is accepting public comments on this issue until October 31, 2011. The FWS is requesting specific scientific and commercial information regarding chimpanzees:

“Please note that comments merely stating support for or opposition to the action under consideration without providing supporting information, although noted, will not be part of the basis of this determination, as section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act directs that determinations as to whether any species is an endangered or threatened species must be made ‘solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available.’”

For additional information, see “Captive Chimps Could Be Declared Endangered Species .”