Tommy, a Chimpanzee of 26 years old who lives a captive life, has now become a revolutionary icon in changing our so called definition of Human Rights. Judges in the New York state heard a sequence of legal appeals trying to get a permit for Legal Personhood to the creatures. A group fighting with animal rights with a project named Non-human Rights Project (NhRP) is now moving with lawyers to free various animals from their captivity, in a massive effort this time. This case may lead to expand rights for animals to Gorillas, Elephants, Dolphins as well as Chimpanzees.
Non-human Rights Project filed lawsuits on behalf of 4 caged Chimpanzees in three lower courts of New York last year. The two Chimpanzees are Tommy and Kiko, and they live in cages on private property. The other two Chimpanzees, named Hercules and Leo live in the laboratory of Stony Brook University. Steven Wise, the founder of NhRP and an eminent animal rights lawyer, who devoted many years in consulting with policy experts, scientists, other lawyers to sharpen their strategy. The group of Steven Wise filed a writ of habeas corpus stated that a person should express his words in the court who is being kept in imprisonment. The writ will be implied that a Chimpanzee is a legal person and so it must get freedom from its captivity.
But, all the three lower court rejected the lawsuits. So, Steven Wise appealed again in front of a panel of 5 judges in a packed courthouse on Wednesday. He argued that Chimpanzees are very much involved in conscious intellectual activities and they are genetically similar to human beings. So, Chimpanzees deserve a fundamental right to freedom; he also mentioned that Tommy and other Chimpanzees as well should be replaced to a sanctuary in Florida to resume their natural habitat.
Richard Cupp, who has immeasurable writings and speeches in the society about legal and moral status of creatures, and who is also a professor of Law at Pepperdine University, has a different opinion. In his words, Legal Personhood rights to creatures could weaken the concept of Human Rights inadvertently.