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Lincoln Park Zoo hails government's consideration to reclassify chimpanzees

chimpanzees in rescue sanctuary
chimpanzees in rescue sanctuary
Lincoln Park Zoological Society

The zoo applauds the government's decision to reconsider reclassifying chimpanzees living in the US as endangered

(Chicago, September 1, 2011)---According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, wild chimpanzees are severly endangered and could become extinct within 10 to 50 years should current trends continue. A decision of reclassification by the government would improve the welfare and conservation of the species, which is endangered in the wild.

Said Steve Ross, PhD, assistant director of the Lester Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes at Lincoln Park Zoo, "Chimpanzees are only species that are endangered in the wild, but not recognized as endangered in the US. Provding captive chimpanzees with the protections that come with endangered status is an important step to curtailing private ownership of this species and the exploitation by the media entertainment industry."

LPZ has joined several other animal conservation and welfare organiztions in petitioning the US Fish and Wildlife Service earlier this year requesting the status of chimpanzees be re-classified as endangered.

Said Kevin Bell, President & CEO of LPZ, "The Association of Zoos and Aquariums and Lincoln Park Zoo have been involved with this initiative since its inception and hope that this change will result in improved captive care for chimpanzees across the country and improved protection for them in the wild."

A recent study by Ross, who is also the founder of Project ChimpCARE, revealed that the use of chimpanzees by the entertainment industry in movies, commercials and greeting cards is conributing to widespread misunderstanding about the species which can impact the public's conservation attitudes and decisions. The study was published in July in PLoS One, the open-access journal of the Public Library of Sciences.

According to Ross, if the USFWS decides to classify chimpanzees as endangered, they will provided the same protections afforded other endangered species which will minimze exploitation for commercial profit and could serve to benefit the long-term survival and conservation of the species.

The USFWS reports the chimpanzee status review process could take up to 12 months to complete before a final decision is made.

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