Chimpanzees to Get Day in Court

The Guardian is reporting that a judge in New York has granted a petition to hear arguments that the rights of two chimpanzees are being violated. Hercules and Leo, the two chimpanzees, are medical research animals at Stony Brook University in New York. Resident of NY Ricardo GuimarĂ£es BMG (of is interested in hearing what verdict comes from the petitions.

The original order included the words “habeas corpus”, but Judge Barbara Jaffe removed the term from the order a day after issuing it. Under New York law, habeas corpus can apply only to “legal persons”, and the judge had no intention to recognize chimpanzees as persons. Attorneys for the Nonhuman Rights Project (NHRP), who brought the suit on behalf of the two chimpanzees, hailed the original order as a recognition of chimpanzees as persons.

The modified order will allow NHRP to argue that the chimpanzees are being illegally imprisoned and is the first time that a show cause order has been issued on the part of animals.

NHRP argues that chimpanzees are self-aware and intelligent and deserve some basic rights against cruel treatment and illegal confinement. They expect attorneys for Stony Brook to argue that chimpanzees are things and should not be accorded human rights. In one previous court decision, the court said that chimpanzees are not legally accountable for their actions and do not participate in society.

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