State Land Commissioner Ray Powell says he's supporting a proposal to expand federal protections for chimpanzees in captivity by declaring them an endangered species.
Powell, who is a veterinarian, said Wednesday that he had written a letter to federal officials in support of the proposal announced earlier this month by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Primatologist Jane Goodall advocated the change.
Chimpanzees in the wild are listed as endangered species but those in captivity are considered threatened, which offers less protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.
About 2,000 chimps are held in captivity in the United States, including for medical research.
If the proposal is approved, a special permit would be required to sell chimps interstate or use them in medical research.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.