Our local chimpanzee sanctuary applauds a new U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal to add captive chimps to the Endangered Species List. 

Right now, they're listed as threatened, while wild chimps are on the endangered list.  And this is the only species with a split-listing.  Chimp Haven President and CEO Cathy Spraetz tells KEEL News this is a victory for the great apes.

"We, along with many organizations, have strongly believed that both the captive and wild chimpanzee populations have been endangered for many years," Spraetz says.  "[The] announcement further solidifies the importance of retiring chimpanzees to a safe and natural environment such as Chimp Haven, as well as developing and enforcing strict regulations on the trafficking and breeding of the great ape."

But Spraetz says she's unsure at the moment exactly what this will mean for the Keithville sanctuary.  "It may mean that we will be the home to more chimpanzees, not only those from the National Instutes of Health that are federally-owned, but also other chimpanzees that currently are privately-owned, and those in the entertainment industry, as well."

Chimp Haven has recently taken in a large number of animals from the New Iberia Research Center, and is expecting another group in September. 

There's a 60-day public comment period before the proposal would take effect.  Visit the Fish and Wildlife Service website to share your thoughts.  Spraetz says you can find a link to that on Chimp Haven's website, as well.  She tells us she hopes residents are supportive of the proposal.

While you're on Chimp Haven's website, find out how you can donate to the campaign to construct additional living space for the chimpanzees to come.  Spraetz says the sanctuary has reached more than half of its $5-million goal.