NY appeals court: 'Chimpanzees have no human rights' (Video)
NY appeals court: 'Chimpanzees have no human rights' (Video)

NY appeals court: ‘Chimpanzees have no human rights’ (Video)

A New York appeals court denied a chimpanzee’s claim to the full rights of human beings Thursday, finding the primates have no “societal duties.”.

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The case centered around Tommy, a 26-year-old chimpanzee kept by his owner in a cage in Gloversville. Attorney Steven Wise, president of the Nonhuman Rights Project, argued that chimpanzees display enough attributes similar to humans to be eligible for protections from unlawful imprisonment.

The five-member court ruled unanimously against Wise and Tommy, who is named as the plaintiff in the case.

“Needless to say, unlike human beings, chimpanzees cannot bear any legal duties, submit to societal responsibilities or be held legally accountable for their action,” Presiding Justice Karen Peters wrote in the seven-page decision.

“In our view, it is this incapability to bear any legal responsibilities and societal duties that renders it inappropriate to confer upon chimpanzees the legal rights — such as the fundamental right to liberty protected by the writ of habeas corpus — that have been afforded to human beings.”

The ruling dealt a significant blow to Wise’s attempt to win additional rights for chimpanzees, though his group does have a similar case pending before the Appellate Division in Rochester regarding Kiko, a chimpanzee in Niagara Falls. The court heard oral arguments in the appeal earlier this week.

Since the Albany court’s decision was unanimous, the state’s highest court — the Court of Appeals — isn’t required to hear the case if Wise were to appeal.

Instead, Wise would have to file a motion with the court essentially asking for permission to appeal the ruling. Such motions are rarely granted by the court; In 2013, just 65 of 996 such requests were granted.

In a statement, the Nonhuman Rights Project said it is already working on another appeal. The group took issue with the Appellate Division’s rationale, saying it was “wrong and will be the subject of our appeal to New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals.”


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