A New York appeals court will consider this week whether chimpanzees are entitled to “legal personhood” in what experts say is the first case of its kind.
For Steven Wise, the lawyer behind the case involving a chimp named Tommy, it is the culmination of three decades of seeking to extend rights historically reserved for humans to other intelligent animals.
On Wednesday, a mid-level state appeals court in Albany will hear the case of the 26-year-old Tommy, who is owned by a human and lives alone in what Wise describes as a “dark, dank shed” in upstate New York.
Wise is seeking a ruling that Tommy has been unlawfully imprisoned and should be released to a chimp sanctuary in Florida.
A victory in the case could lead to a further expansion of rights for chimps and other higher-order animals, including elephants, dolphins, orcas and other non-human primates, Wise said.
“The next argument could be that Tommy … also has the right to bodily integrity, so he couldn’t be used in biomedical research,” the Boston attorney said.
The full article is here, via Charles Klingman.