Victory! Chimps Will Get Their Day in Court for Case Seeking Personhood

Unbeknownst to two privately-owned chimpanzees being used for biomedical research in New York, their legal advocates are making progress in a case seeking to have them recognized as legal persons and freed.

Earlier this week, news broke that Judge Barbara Jaffe of the New York County Supreme Court had made history by issuing a writ of habeas corpus for nonhuman animals for the first time ever, essentially declaring they are legal persons.

The case was brought by the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) on behalf of Hercules and Leo, two chimpanzees who are being used in locomotion research at Stony Brook University to explore how humans evolved to walk on two feet.

The NhRP is working on several such cases seeking to break down the legal wall that separates us from nonhuman animals. Using the writ of habeus corpus, which has historically been used to challengeimprisonment, they are attempting to get the courts recognize them as legal persons who are entitled to a basic legal right not to be imprisoned, as opposed to recognizing them as property, which is how the law now sees them.

They argue that these chimpanzees, and other nonhuman animals, have been scientifically-proven to possess intelligence, self-awareness and autonomy and should therefore have the right to bodily liberty and bodily integrity – something we, as humans, are automatically granted just by being born human.

In this case, the NhRP is seeking to have Hercules and Leo moved to Save the Chimps, a Florida-basedsanctuary, where the organization believes they will be able to live out the rest of their days in an environment that’s as close to their natural one as it gets here in the states…

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