Thursday, 12 December 2013

Judge Rules Chimps Can’t Be Legal Persons, But Activists Vow to Fight On

6:39 PM

Can a chimpanzee be considered a legal person? Not for now, a judge ruled this morning in Niagara County, New York, but the legal arguments are just beginning.

The hearing, conducted over the phone by Judge Ralph A. Boniello, III and attorneys from the Nonhuman Rights Project, a group that supports legal rights for chimpanzees, ended in the judge’s denial of a habeas corpus writ for a 26-year-old chimp named Kiko.

Had the writ been granted, Kiko’s owners would have been ordered to appear in court and justify his detainment, thus opening the door to consideration of something unprecedented in American history: the possibility of legal personhood for a non-human animal.

Judge Boniello’s was the third rejection of the Nonhuman Rights Project’s three lawsuits, filed last week on behalf of Kiko, who is owned by a couple living in nearby Niagara Falls; a chimpanzee named Tommy, who is kept alone in a warehouse in Gloversville, New York; and two Stony Brook University research chimps named Leo and Hercules. All the decisions will be appealed, with appellate court hearings expected in 2014.

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