The Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta, Georgia is sneakily looking to export seven lab chimpanzees to an unaccredited, U.K. zoo -- the Wingham Wildlife Park -- that's never handled chimpanzees before. The zoo has already spent $2.2 million on a 12,700-square-foot enclosure that'll grant the lab chimps indoor and outdoor access, but a bigger cage is still a cage.
Critics argue that the export completely undermines the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Under the ESA, any export of any protected animal has to benefit the survival of the species. As National Geographic reports, in order to satisfy that requirement, the Yerkes National Primate Research Center and the Wingham Wildlife Park "decided to make a donation to a charity that would promote chimpanzee conservation." Not only does one donation not do enough for chimpanzee conservation, but they are donating to the Population and Sustainability Network, a nonprofit from the U.K. that focuses on human reproductive rights to support sustainable development (i.e. nothing that'll directly benefit chimpanzees). Critics fear that this export could set the precedent that export permits for endangered animals can be bought and sold.
At least four sanctuaries, including one in neighboring Louisiana, have offered to give the lab chimps a forever home. Research shows that chimpanzees do not thrive in zoos, and a sanctuary is their best chance at a normal, chimpanzee experience.
Sign and share this petition urging the Yerkes National Primate Research Center and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to do the right thing: retire Lucas, Fritz, Agatha, Tara, Faye, Elvira, and Georgia to an American sanctuary.
Photo credit: Tim Parkinson