Are Chimps ‘Persons,’ Too?

Alex Olson Contributor
Font Size:

A New York court of appeals is set to hear a suit to have chimpanzees declared “persons” in order to free the animals from what animal advocates are calling inhumane terrible conditions. The apes are currently classified as “things.”

The case centers around Tommy, a chimp currently living alone in an upstate Fulton County cage. Attorney Steven Wise and the Nonhuman Rights Project  are arguing on Tommy’s behalf to have him released onto a Florida wildlife sanctuary to be with other chimpanzees, the Associated Press Reports.

Wise, whose group is also litigating on behalf of three other New York chimps, argues that chimpanzees have human characteristics, and thus deserve basic human rights, like not being held captive in a cage for no reason.

“Having a sole chimpanzee is like being a human being who is in solitary confinement. Right there, that’s a huge red flag for us because chimpanzees are so social that to have a chimpanzee living like that is a terrible thing.”

For his part, Tommy’s owner argues that his ward is perfectly content, “He’s really got it good,” he told the Albany Times-Union. “He’s got a lot of enrichment. He’s got color TV, cable and a stereo.”

Alex Olson