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

Mayor announces public housing improvements

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the Lincoln Houses in East Harlem on Wednesday, calling for the scaffolding to come down at NYCHA complexes across…

National

Peter Theo Curtis: American released by Syrian militants…

An American writer freed this week from two years in the captivity of insurgents in Syria spoke briefly outside his family's Cambridge home Wednesday of…

Local

Bratton defends 'broken windows' work as NYPD support…

Sixty percent of those polled said they support the "broken windows" theory approach popularized by Commissioner Bratton since his first term in the 1990s.

Local

Transit changes for Labor Day weekend

The MTA is adding additional service Friday for New Yorkers getting out of the city for the long weekend. On Friday, Aug. 29, 27 additional…

Television

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

Season 11’s top four dancers gave their final performances before America’s Favorite Dancers are announced next week.

Going Out

Things to do this week in NYC, Aug.…

MUSIC The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, www.electriczoofestival.com The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees…

Going Out

5 things to do this weekend in NYC

The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, www.electriczoofestival.com The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees expected. David Guetta,…

Television

'Full House' might be relaunched with some of…

A new "Full House" might be in the works.

NFL

Mario Manningham on the bubble as Giants play…

Former Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham hopes his second go-around with Big Blue doesn’t end with Saturday’s final cut day.

NFL

Source: Stephen Hill 'faces a battle' to make…

A team source says Stephen Hill, who has battled injuries and poor performances during his first two years, is no lock to make the Jets’ final roster.

Sports

Serena Williams leaving legacy of talented American women…

It seems only a matter of when, not if, Serena Williams will win her 18th career grand slam championship.

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…

Sex

The 10 types of people you meet online

Does it ever seem like online dating profiles tend to get a little repetitive? It turns out you are not the only one to have…

Home

Labor Day essentials

Whether you’re soaking up the sun on the beach or barbecuing in the park here are some must-haves for your end-of-summer bash.