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Posts from the ‘Primates’ Category

In Historic Ruling, Court Recognizes Two Chimps as Legal Persons

For the first time in history, a judge has granted a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a nonhuman animal.

This afternoon, in a case brought by the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffe issued the writ on behalf of two chimpanzees, Hercules and Leo, who are being used for biomedical experimentation at Stony Brook University on Long Island, New York.

Under the law of New York State, only a "legal person" may have a writ of habeas corpus issued in his or her behalf. The Court has therefore implicitly determined that Hercules and Leo are "persons".

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Believe It or Not

Sandra tries to hide in her pen at the Buenos Aires Zoo

In the first-ever case of its kind, an orangutan at a zoo in Argentina has been recognized by a high court as being a "legal person" with the capacity for certain legal rights, including habeas corpus, so she may be taken from the zoo and sent to a sanctuary.

Sounds great. Except that none of it is true.

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Tommy the Chimpanzee’s Case Will Move to New York’s Highest Court

Tommy-cropThe New York State Appellate Court, Third Division, has issued its decision in the case of Tommy the chimpanzee, and has essentially opened the door for Tommy’s case to be taken to New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals.

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How Ebola Is Killing Our Cousins


If chimpanzees and gorillas had their own version of the Internet, they'd probably be posting headlines like:

Gorillas Face Extinction as Invasive Species Rampages through Forests
Humans Most Likely Source of Deadly Infection . . .

That's because while most of us seven billion humans are at small risk of catching Ebola, the same is not true for our great ape cousins. They're catching it in droves.

We don't know the numbers yet, but with gorillas and chimpanzees already facing extinction, Ebola could be the final coup-de-grace.

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Tommy’s Owner Speaks

It was probably a good idea for Patrick Lavery, the "owner" of Tommy the chimpanzee, not to make an appearance at the appellate court in Albany, NY, yesterday. Check out what he told a TV reporter.

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Inside the Courtroom at Tommy’s Appeal


It was a packed courtroom at the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, for the Matter of the Nonhuman Rights Project v. Lavery, 518336 – better known as Tommy the chimpanzee's appeal hearing.

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Appeals Court to Hear Chimpanzee Lawsuit

Tommy the chimpanzee is headed back to court. He won't be there in person, but the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) is appealing a December ruling of a lower court that denied him the legal right to "bodily liberty." (Setting of new precedents is generally left to the higher courts.)

You'll recall that Tommy is one of four chimpanzees in New York State who, according to the NhRP, are being held unlawfully under the common law and should be released to a sanctuary. (The other three are Hercules and Leo, who are being held at a research facility at Stony Brook University, and Kiko, who is being kept as a "pet" in a private home.)

The judges in each of the lower court hearings denied the writs of habeas corpus, which would have enabled the chimpanzees to be transferred to sanctuaries, but two of them clearly indicated that they supported what the NhRP is setting out to do.

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Nonhuman Rights Project on ‘Colbert Report’

Stephen-Colbert-071614-2 steven_wise-for-colbert

Legal rights for animals?? Expect Stephen Colbert to be suitably shocked, horrified and appalled when, in character as the classic right-wing bloviator, he welcomes Steven Wise of the Nonhuman Rights Project as his special guest, Thursday evening, on The Colbert Report. Read more

Chimpanzee Personalities Almost Identical to Humans

A new study of captive chimpanzees concludes that the personality traits of chimpanzees are almost identical to those of humans.

I asked psychologist Sam Gosling of the University of Texas at Austin what's been learned from the study. Prof. Gosling didn't take part in this particular research, but, as one of the first people to study personality in nonhuman animals, he has perhaps the best overview of personality in all kinds of animals, both human and nonhuman.

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Chatting with Charles Siebert

Charles Siebert's New York Times story about the Nonhuman Rights Project has stirred lots of interest around the country in last few days.

Among other scoops, Siebert was able to talk with the judge who ruled in the case of Tommy the chimpanzee. I talked with him about that conversation, about the two years he spent preparing the article, and about what he's working on now.

Unlocking the Cage

For the last two years, Academy Award-winning movie maker D.A. Pennebaker and Oscar nominee Chris Hegedus have been following the work of Steven M. Wise and the Nonhuman Rights Project for their upcoming movie Unlocking the Cage.

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Q & A with Steven M. Wise

Steven M. Wise, President of the Nonhuman Rights Project President, answers some of the questions we’ve been receiving in the wake of the cover story in the New York Times magazine.

First: “Why can’t a humane society or local authorities just go in and rescue those poor chimpanzees?”

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Our First Plaintiff

Our plaintiff did not walk into our office; he couldn’t. When we last saw him, he was being held captive in solitary confinement in a small, dank, cement cage in a dark shed in temperatures 40 degrees below his native land.

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Nonhuman Rights Project Is New York Times Magazine Cover Story

charles-siebert-042314Renowned author and journalist Charles Siebert writes about the Nonhuman Rights Project for this week's cover story in the New York Times Magazine.

Siebert accompanies attorney Steven Wise as he drives to the used trailer lot where Tommy the chimpanzee is being held in a dark shed. He attends the many meetings where the legal team is preparing the lawsuits on behalf of Tommy, Kiko, Hercules and Leo. And in December 2013 he follows Wise as those first, groundbreaking cases go to court in New York State.

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The New Conversation about Persons

ape-human-02When the Nonhuman Rights Project filed its first three lawsuits earlier this month, inviting judges in New York State to recognize four captive chimpanzees as “legal persons” with the right to bodily liberty, we were not expecting to set off a worldwide conversation.

But that’s exactly what’s happened – hundreds of articles, posts, comments, videos, chat sessions, conferences and general discussions in dozens of countries.

While the legal cases work their way through the higher courts over the coming months, it seems that this new conversation is one whose time has come. Our relationship, as humans, with our fellow animals is so damaged that few issues could be more important than how we relate to the natural world in the years ahead.

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Chimpanzee Personhood: What the Media Said

As soon as we started filing our first three lawsuits last week, we were deluged with media interest from around the world. Here are just a few links to some of the hundreds of reports:

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Chimpanzee Personhood: What the Judges Said

It's a little unusual for a judge to wish you good luck as you head off to appeal his decision. But that's exactly what happened when the Nonhuman Rights Project went before the Hon. Joseph Sise in a county court last week.

It was the first of three court proceedings on behalf of four chimpanzees in New York State – Tommy, Kiko, Hercules and Leo – whom we're seeking to have released to sanctuaries.

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First-Ever Lawsuit Filed for Chimpanzee Seeking Legal Personhood


This morning, the Nonhuman Rights Project  (NhRP) filed suit in Fulton County Court in the state of New York on behalf of Tommy, a chimpanzee, who is being held captive in a cage in a shed at a used trailer lot in Gloversville.

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Leaving Las Vegas


Last December, Terry the chimpanzee celebrated his 34th birthday. He got some apples and other treats, and a few visitors wandered by, but it wasn't much of a party. When his next birthday rolls around, however, Terry will have lots to cheer about. He'll be free.

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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Jersey, a chimpanzee at Save the Chimps, is busy checking herself out in a mirror – not very different from what you or I do when standing in front of the mirror, especially if, like her, you're a 13-year-old with lots of friends and family!

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