New York lawyers go bananas over chimp rights
A New York-based animal rights group has approached a court for a ruling as to whether or not chimpanzees have legal rights.world Updated: May 27, 2015 15:20 IST
Lawyers for two chimpanzees are heading to court to argue that the animals have "personhood" rights and should be freed from a Long Island university where they are being kept.
The Nonhuman Rights Project has filed the petition in a state court in Manhattan on behalf of Leo and Hercules. The chimps are kept at Stony Brook University, where they are used in locomotion studies. Stony Brook is part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system.
Their lawyers say in their petition that the court should recognize the chimps as "autonomous and self-determining beings" who have the right to bodily liberty. They want to see them sent to a sanctuary in Florida which is as close to living in nature as chimps can get in North America.
The state attorney general's office is representing SUNY, and says the courts should dismiss the petition because it should have been filed in Suffolk County, and not New York City. Furthermore, the state attorney says that other earlier court decisions have ruled that chimps do not have personhood rights.
The chimps are not expected in court.
The rights project has filed similar cases before. In October, an attorney with the group argued before a state appeals court over Tommy, a 26-year-old chimp in upstate Fulton County. The court had then ruled against the group.