The US is alone in conducting medical experiments on chimps, but a move yesterday by federal officials may end the practice, reports the Washington Post. The US Fish and Wildlife Service declared that all chimps are now endangered. Previously it made a distinction between those in the wild, which have been endangered for decades, and those in captivity, which had the lesser designation of "threatened." The move doesn't explicitly end medical experiments, but it will require biomedical researchers to require permits with stringent conditions to be allowed to conduct experiments. The New York Times reports that 730 chimpanzees are currently in the custody of biomedical labs, adding that the new federal designation is the result of a petition filed by Jane Goodall and the Humane Society of the US.
"There are times in the past when I wondered whether this day would ever happen," Goodall tells the Guardian. “It shows an awakening, it shows a new consciousness. We should all raise our glasses tonight.” The decision also will crimp the sale of chimpanzees as pets or for use in the entertainment business, but it's expected to hit medical research institutions the hardest. Fish and Wildlife chief Dan Ashe says the original decision to extend chimps the unusual dual designation was "well-intentioned," but it ended up expanding "a culture and attitude of treating these animals as commodities." (Read more chimpanzees stories.)