Yes, an appellate court in New York actually had to issue a ruling that a Gloversville chimp named Tommy was not entitled to personhood status.
Tommy, a former entertainment chimp, was placed with his owner, Patrick Lavery, over ten years ago. Lavery indicates that Tommy lives in a very plush bachelor pad which he describes as a “seven-room enclosure … with lots of toys and other enrichment.”
Living a life of luxury wasn’t enough however, for a group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project who argued that Tommy’s home was akin to a person being placed in solitary confinement.
As such, a five-judge panel had to actually listen to arguments along this line, ultimately deciding that Tommy does not have human rights.
Watch the news report on Tommy below …
Via the Fox News:
But the mid-level appeals court said there is no precedent for treating animals as persons and no legal basis.
“So far as legal theory is concerned, a person is any being whom the law regards as capable of rights and duties,” the judges wrote. “Needless to say, unlike human beings, chimpanzees cannot bear any legal duties, submit to societal responsibilities or be held legally accountable for their actions.”
That, they ruled, makes it “inappropriate” to grant the rights of a human to the animal.
Judge Karen Peters wrote, “Needless to say, unlike human beings, chimpanzees cannot bear any legal duties, submit to societal responsibilities or be held legally accountable for their actions. In our view, it is this incapability to bear any legal responsibilities and societal duties that renders it inappropriate to confer upon chimpanzees the legal rights – such as the fundamental right to liberty protected by the writ of habeas corpus – that have been afforded to human beings.”
It should be noted that all five judges on the panel were homo sapiens. Was the court’s decision made with a pro-human bias? Could the panel have been swayed by speciesism? Let us know what you think of this judicial monkey business …