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Yerkes Research Center Applies for Permits to Donate Chimpanzees to Wingham Wildlife Park

October 15, 2015

Media Contacts

Lisa Newbern, 404-727-7709,

Note, Jan. 19, 2016: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reopened the public comment period for the Yerkes Research Center's permit application to export eight chimpanzees to the Wingham Wildlife Park. New information is contained on pages 229-239. Comments are expected to be accepted for the next 30 days. (Now closed.)

The Yerkes National Primate Research Center has applied to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the necessary permits that will allow us to follow through on the commitment we made in 2014 to donate eight of our center’s chimpanzees to the Wingham Wildlife Park (WWP) in the United Kingdom.

We have many reasons for wanting to donate some of our chimpanzees, including our center’s changing research priorities and focus on national health priorities, including HIV cure research, neuroscience and genomics.

Before agreeing to make this donation, an interdisciplinary team of Yerkes employees thoroughly evaluated WWP. This review included assessing the expertise of veterinary and animal care staff, reviewing regulatory reports and evaluating facilities, finances and community support. The Yerkes team also contributed to the design of the new habitat, which was designed and is being built specifically for chimpanzees. In addition, the Yerkes team conducted a site visit prior to entering this agreement, has been in frequent contact with WWP personnel throughout the last two years, hosted WWP personnel on site at Yerkes to train the staff in our animal care procedures and will be visiting the park again before the transfer as well as accompanying the chimpanzees during the transfer process. We are confident WWP can meet our high expectations regarding the care for the chimpanzees we are donating. 

Much like the regulatory environment in which the Yerkes Research Center operates, WWP is licensed by the United Kingdom’s Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). This is equivalent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. DEFRA maintains an active inspection process of its licensed facilities, and Wingham is in compliance with all regulations. WWP is also approved by the government of the United Kingdom under the Balai Directive, which sets the conditions for import and export of animals within the European Union that is not covered by other legislation.

While some in the animal rights community disagree with our decision and have disseminated misleading information about the quality and commitment of the WWP, we have conducted a comprehensive review and have been unable to substantiate the issues the activists have raised. Therefore, we have continued to proceed with obtaining the necessary permits in order to move forward with this donation of eight of our chimpanzees to WWP.  

Our permit application is posted at:!documentDetail;D=FWS-HQ-IA-2015-0149-0001, and the opportunity to comment remains open through Nov. 16.

We ask for support of the chimpanzee donation decisions we are making – decisions we believe are best for our animals and our center as well as the health of our nation.

Related news release:

The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service. Its components include the Emory University School of Medicine, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, and Rollins School of Public Health; Yerkes National Primate Research Center; Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University; and Emory Healthcare, the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia. Emory Healthcare includes: The Emory Clinic, Emory-Children's Center, Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown, Wesley Woods Center, and Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital. The Woodruff Health Sciences Center has a $2.5 billion budget, 17,600 employees, 2,500 full-time and 1,500 affiliated faculty, 4,700 students and trainees, and a $5.7 billion economic impact on metro Atlanta.

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