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Court: Chimps Are Not People

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A New York appeals court this morning rejected the lawsuit, filed by the Nonhuman Rights Project, on behalf of Tommy, a 26-year-old chimp kept alone by his owners in an upstate warehouse.

The Nonhuman Rights Project argued that Tommy should be considered a person—in legal terms, an entity capable of having rights, and in his case one specific right: not to be wrongfully imprisoned.

“Petitioner requests that this Court enlarge the common-law definition of ‘person’ in order to afford legal rights to an animal,” wrote the judges in their decision. “We decline to do so.”

Attorney Steven Wise, founder of the Nonhuman Rights Project, said they will appeal the decision to New York’s highest court. “We think the court was wrong in some very fundamental ways,” he said.

I'm not a lawyer but I'll venture a guess that they may have had more success if they focused on "cruelty to animals" rather than argue that Tommy should be considered a Person. The ramifications for the latter (obviously) would be too huge.

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