Washington, Jun 13 (IANS): A US conservation agency has declared all chimpanzees, both wild and captive, endangered, a move that will curb the use of these animals in biomedical research, entertainment and the pet trade, media reported on Saturday.
The agency, US Fish and Wildlife Service, made the announcement on Friday in a final rule to classify all chimps as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, Xinhua news agency reported.
Previously, it only recognised wild chimps as endangered, while captive chimps were only listed as threatened under the act.
Under the final rule, certain activities will be prohibited without a permit, including import and export of chimps in and out of the US, and any procedure that involves harming, harassing, killing and injuring the animal.
Permits will be issued only for scientific purposes that benefit the species in the wild, or to enhance the propagation or survival of chimps, including habitat restoration and research on chimps in the wild that contributes to improved management and recovery, the agency said.
The final rule came two years after the US National Institutes of Health decided to phase out the use of the vast majority of chimps in invasive experiments.
Currently, the US is home to about 1,700 captive chimps and over 700 of them are bred in labs for medical research.
An estimated 172,000 to 300,000 chimps are still living in African rainforests.