NOVEMBER 15, 2011
Although millions of human lives are at stake, the Obama Administration is on the verge of caving into the demands of leftist animal rights groups by putting chimpanzees on the U.S. government’s endangered species list.
This would ban the sort of biomedical research that has helped produce life-saving vaccines for diseases such as Hepatitis B. Chimps are also essential in AIDs research and the hope of developing an elusive vaccine against the deadlier Hepatitis C, an infectious viral disease that leads to swelling of the liver and plagues tens of millions of people worldwide.
The reason chimps are so valuable to medical researchers is that they share many similarities to humans, including more than 98% of the genetic code. In fact, chimps are the only known animal other than humans that can become infected with AIDS, the lethal virus that destroys the immune system.
Outlawing research with chimps would threaten human lives, according to the medical director of a top nonprofit center in Texas that’s well known in the scientific community for its efforts to improve health, save lives and advance knowledge of human diseases. Chimp research helps topnotch scientists find cures and ultimately eradicate disease, according to the center’s website.
But a consortium of influential animal rights groups delivered a lengthy petition last spring demanding the government upgrade captive chimpanzees from threatened to endangered status which would ban scientists from using the approximately 1,000 chimps available for biological and behavioral studies in the U.S. The petition also asks that chimps be barred from the entertainment industry and forbidden from being kept in private zoos or as personal pets.
Why? Because the chimpanzee is an “imperiled species” that’s being exploited, according to the animal rights groups. One of the nation’s largest mainstream newspapers went so far as to write that, to many people, chimps “look like relatives behind bars.” To keep the phrase in context, here is the entire paragraph of the story published in the New York Times this week: “Chimps’ similarity to humans makes them valuable for research, and at the same time inspires intense sympathy. To research scientists, they may look like the best chance to cure terrible diseases. But to many other people, they look like relatives behind bars.”
The Obama Administration is taking this seriously and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering classifying all chimps—wild or captive—endangered by sometime next year. In an announcement published in the Federal Register, the agency announces that it’s accepting public comments on the matter until the end of January.
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