All chimpanzees are now protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Under the new ruling, chimps will be protected from capture or sale. It will also become illegal to import or export the animals without a proper permit. These authorizations will only be issued for scientific purposes or when the movement of the animals benefits the species as a whole.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the new legal protections for the primates, which will be published on June 16, 2015. The new ruling will include wild animals as well as those living in captivity. Previously, chimps living in artificial habitats were classified as threatened under federal guidelines. This change will place further restrictions on commercial use of chimpanzees and will mandate the animals are treated in a humane fashion by human caretakers.

"It's wonderful news that all chimpanzees now have the endangered status that these highly intelligent and imperiled primates need to survive. Protecting captive chimps as endangered is the morally correct thing to do, and it will also help safeguard the species in the wild," said Tara Easter from the Center for Biological Diversity.

Chimpanzees are facing numerous threats to their survival as a species. These include deforestation, loss of their natural habitat and being captured by humans for sale as pets. Such animals can become caught between living in the world of chimpanzees and that of humans. Although they are fairly easy animals to raise when they are young, they can become challenging as they grow older. As they become less docile, they often need to be disciplined, which the animals resent, and they often attack their handlers in retaliation. When owners pass the domesticated animals onto zoos, they are often unable to live with others of their own kind. Chimps living in the wild were already classified as endangered starting in 1990.

The Jane Goodall Institute led a coalition of organizations to reclassify captive chimpanzees as endangered, like their wild cousins.

"I feel very relieved that all chimpanzees, whether they are captive or wild, will be listed as endangered which means that captive chimpanzees will be recognized as members of an endangered species. Many people have worked for more than two decades to bring about this change and it is a relief to know that we have finally succeeded," Jane Goodall, one of the world's best-known naturalists, wrote.

Chimpanzees live in 22 nations of equatorial Africa, and they are the closest-living relative to human beings. The new protections for the animals will go into effect in September 2015.

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