Will Tommy The Chimp Be Given Human Rights?
An animal rights campaign group says that smart and self-aware animals such as chimpanzees should not be put in cages as it violates their human rights.
Chimps will be given human rights if a New York judge rules in favor of human’s closest relatives. The case refers to a chimp named Tommy who is imprisoned (held in a cage) in a New York state farm. Activists say that Tommy is being held there involuntary and should be able to live freely – just like any man – in a sanctuary in Florida.
The project is being led by Steven Wise, part of the Nonhuman Rights Project who argues Tommy should be classed as a ‘legal person.’
“It’s a morally wrong thing to do. As a matter of both liberty and equality, Tommy should be seen as a person.”
The campaign says it is, “the first and only organization petitioning courts to recognize that, based on existing scientific evidence, certain nonhuman animals – specifically great apes, dolphins, and elephants – are entitled to such basic legal rights as bodily liberty and integrity.”
Activists have filed lawsuits on behalf of four imprisoned chimps.
“We argue that our first chimpanzee plaintiffs should be freed, then transferred to a sanctuary where they can live out their days with many other chimpanzees in an environment as close to the wild as is possible in North America.”
However, Tommy’s owner Patrick Lavery claims the chimp is perfectly happy.
“He’s got a lot of enrichment. He’s got color TV, cable and a stereo. He likes being by himself.”
The Supreme Court judge threw the case out, although he showed his support for the cause.
“Good luck with your venture. I’m sorry I can’t sign the order, but I hope you continue. As an animal lover, I appreciate your work.”
Wise appealed and now is taking the case to the Appellate Division in Albany.