Chimps Don’t Have the Same Legal Rights as People, Judge Rules

Saturday, August 01, 2015
(photo: Gravity Giant Prod/Getty Images)

A New York judge ruled Thursday that animals do not have the same legal protections under the law as humans.


Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffe ruled (pdf) that Leo and Hercules, two 8-year-old chimps kept a laboratory at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, are not entitled to the right of habeas corpus.


The Nonhuman Rights Project had sought the chimps’ freedom to relocate them to an animal sanctuary in Florida. Instead, they will remain at the university lab, where they participate in locomotion studies.


The Nonhuman Rights Project contended in their petition that “Hercules and Leo are autonomous and self-determining beings who possess the New York common law right to bodily liberty protected by the New York common law of habeas corpus.”


Jaffe denied this claim. “Animals, including chimpanzees and other highly intelligent mammals, are considered property under the law,” Jaffe ruled. “They are accorded no legal rights beyond being guaranteed the right to be free from physical abuse and other mistreatment.”


The Nonhuman Rights Project said it plans to appeal the decision.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Chimps Are Not People, New York Judge Rules (by Dan McCue, Courthouse News Service)

No, Chimpanzees Aren’t ‘Legal Persons,’ New York Judge Rules (by M. Alex Johnson, NBC News)

Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc., on Behalf of Hercules and Leo against Samuel L. Stanley, Jr., M.D., et al (Supreme Court of the State of New York) (pdf)

If Non-Human Corporations can be Protected by Habeas Corpus, Why can’t Chimpanzees? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Group Sues to Provide Legal Rights for Non-Humans (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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