NY lawsuit aims to give chimps fundamental human rights

That’s a beautiful tree.   🙂

Today I saw a report about a lawsuit that was filed in New York on Monday to rescue a 26-year-old chimp called Tommy who is being held in a ‘small, dank, cement cage in a cavernous dark shed’.  The owner of this property said Tommy is one of 11 chimps he has rescued and it is a temporary situation while a place at an animal sanctuary is found.  He also said the cage ‘exceeds federal and state standards and is inspected every year’.  Steven Wise, the president of the non-profit organisation Nonhuman Rights Project, saw Tommy in the cage in October and said ‘He looked terrible.  He looked like a caged chimpanzee – they don’t move, they don’t look at you. They look depressed.’  Nonhuman Rights Project is trying to get a court to declare that Tommy is ‘a cognitively complex autonomous legal person with the fundamental legal right not to be imprisoned’.

There are 3 more lawsuits being filed in New York this week to rescue Kiko, a chimp who is living on a private property in Niagara Falls and 2 other chimps, Leo and Hercules, who are used in research at Stony Brook University on Long Island.  This is a very clever strategy because New York is generally flexible in its view of requests for a writ of habeas corpus (which allows those in captivity to have a say in court) and it allows automatic appeals of unfavourable habeas corpus decisions.  The aim is to get the 4 chimpanzees freed from captivity and moved to a Florida sanctuary.  This can only be a good thing.  We are living in the 21st century now for goodness’ sake! The USA and UK are supposed to be civilised countries but the way we treat animals is mediaeval.

If these lawsuits are successful they will open the door for other lawsuits for gorillas, orangutans, elephants, whales and dolphins.

Well done to Steven Wise from the Nonhuman Rights Project for doing this.  He intends to keep filing lawsuits in an open-ended, strategic litigation campaign.  Now we just need some people in the UK to do the same.   🙂



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