Chimpanzee ‘human rights’ case reaches court

A chimpanzee in the Budongo Trail at Edinburgh Zoo holds a chimp-proof camera.
A chimpanzee in the Budongo Trail at Edinburgh Zoo holds a chimp-proof camera.
Credit: Getty Images

As animal intelligence becomes better understood, treatment has improved in many countries, and you will see fewer monkeys in circuses. But attorney Steven Wise, president of the Nonhuman Rights Project, is going much further, seeking to obtain the first “legal person” status for chimpanzees in a New York court.

Metro: The NRP have wanted such legal rights for animals for many years. Why make this the first court case?

Wise: We have been working on the problem generally and decided New York State was the right location, and these chimpanzees were the right subjects. We found two chimps had died in a few weeks in a roadside zoo, and so we filed on behalf of the four surviving chimps. This would change their legal status from “thing” to being with capacity for rights such as bodily liberty.

Are you going to be laughed out of court?

We believe in our argument but as no one has made it, the first judge won’t have confronted the issue and we won’t win the lower court. We want a good record to then take to the appellate court, and then higher courts. I’ve been working on this case for 28 years, and we have seriously prepared since 2007, so I believe we have a reasonable chance.

Is public opinion on your side?

Yes, we commissioned a recent poll and most Americans across the political spectrum believed chimps should have the rights of a human child. Some believed they already did. Most outside of the exploitation business instinctively agree.

How far do you want chimpanzee rights to go? And for other animals?

Chimps have autonomy – that should be sufficient to have them declared legal persons and have their liberty. Other rights remain to be seen on a case-by-case basis. I’m not saying they should have the vote or education, but they should be left alone and unharmed. That protection requires the status of a person with the capacity for rights, and beyond that we can argue case by case. We just want to open the argument and breach the divide. We are using a 1772 case of a slave using common law to achieve freedom as a blueprint.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Aria Health Torresdale workers caught selling prescription drugs

Two Aria Health at Torresdale employees were fired amid accusations they sold prescription drugs out of the Northeast Philadelphia campus.

National

Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter died Sunday from prostate cancer…

Former U.S. professional boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, who spent 19 years in prison for murder and then was released after it was determined he did not get a fair trial,…

National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

Television

'Orphan Black' recap: Episode 1, ‘Nature Under Constraint…

Welcome to your first Season 2 “Orphan Black” recap! Hopefully Tatiana Maslany can help Tatiana Maslany get through this, with the help of Tatiana Maslany,…

Books

Poems from prison: 'How to Survive a Bullet…

Celebrate National Poetry Month with, "'How to Survive a Bullet to the Heart."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

MLB

Phillies notebook: Cole Hamels returns this week

The Phillies should receive a big boost when Cole Hamels returns during the Dodgers series.

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

Parenting

Is camp right for introverts?

We ask an expert for tips on sending your introverted child to camp

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.