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To save the wild chimps.

To save the vild chimps

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed revising the status of African chimpanzees -- now estimated to number about 175,000 -- from threatened to endangered. Due to go into effect within 60 days, this rule would make illegal the U.S. importation of any chimp from Africa -- even one supplied from captive breeding programs. This "closed a major loophole" that would have allowed the "laundering" of wild animals through captive programs by unscrupulous suppliers, explains Curtis Bohlen, senior vice president of the World Wildlife Fund in Washington, D.C. The value of chimps to biomedical research -- now about $25,000 each -- has continued to foster their poaching, despite an international treaty banning trade in chimps from the wild.

U.S.-held chimps, especially the 1,300 or so in biomedical research facilities, would remain "threatened"--and subject to federal-reporting rules. Had the Fish and Wildlife Service also declared these animals endangered, "that would have been a very serious impediment to biomedical research," says Frederick King, director of the Yerkes Primate Research Center at Emory University in Atlanta. As written, the new rule should have no effect on U.S. research. Kung says the federally sponsored National Chimpanzee Breeding Program, in which Yerkes participates, should be able to produce enough chimps that U.S. Biomedical researchers need never look to Africa again.
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Title Annotation:status to change from threatened to endangered
Publication:Science News
Date:Mar 11, 1989
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