In January 2018, Wingham Wildlife Park (Wingham), an unaccredited zoo in Kent, England, announced the birth of a baby chimpanzee born to former Yerkes National Primate Research Center (Yerkes) chimpanzees. In the fall of 2016, seven Yerkes chimpanzees were sent to Wingham, despite worldwide opposition. Wingham had repeatedly stated it had no intention of permitting them to reproduce. Now another chimpanzee faces a lifetime of captivity behind bars.
Accredited U.S. chimpanzee sanctuaries, for which efforts were made to transfer the Yerkes chimpanzees, prioritize stringent birth control protocols and oppose captive breeding. Producing babies in captivity for public exhibition is regarded as exploitative. Yerkes, which chose to send its former research chimpanzees to Wingham, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which granted Yerkes the permit to do so, should have foreseen this outcome. They were forewarned of this counterproductive possibility by leading conservationists, primatologists, animal protection organizations, and sanctuary professionals around the globe.
In direct response to this news, NEAVS coordinated with coalition members to draft a formal letter to Wingham, Yerkes, Emory University, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS). The letter, led by NEAVS’ efforts, called on the following actions:
Wingham to cease all breeding activities
FWS to refrain from granting such permits in the future
Yerkes to commit to never again send its chimpanzees to an exhibitor that breeds endangered species for commercial gain
Wingham to ensure adult male chimpanzees are sterilized and all female chimpanzees placed on appropriate/consistent chemical birth control
Yerkes and FWS to prevent any more chimpanzees being exported to Wingham or any other entity that may breed for commercial profit
Yerkes and FWS should have transferred these chimpanzees to a U.S.-accredited sanctuary, where hundreds of former research chimpanzees have and are being placed. These and all former research victims deserve nothing less than to live out their lives in the expert care of the specialized U.S. sanctuaries where the needs of the chimpanzees is the only priority.