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Unlocking The Cage Premieres in New York City

June 7, 2016 by Leave a Comment


The News

Unlocking the Cage, a highly-anticipated new film that documents the historic battle by the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) to win legal rights for nonhuman animals, premiered in New York City on May 25th.

The film’s directors, D A Pennebaker and Chris Hedegus, who, according to the New York Times, have made the “most memorable documentaries of the past half-century,” followed their subject, Steven Wise, for four years to record his effort to achieve personhood for several chimpanzees in New York being held captive in laboratories and roadside zoos.

“We are grateful to Pennebaker and Hegedus not only for making such an excellent film about the groundbreaking legal work of Steven Wise and the NhRP but also because their involvement will expand the reach of the film to mainstream audiences worldwide,” said Kevin Schneider, Executive Director of the Nonhuman Rights Project.

From left to right: NhRP President Steven Wise and Unlocking The Cage filmmakers D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus

From left to right: NhRP President Steven Wise and Unlocking The Cage filmmakers D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus (photo: Lukas Maverick Greyson)

On the day before the worldwide premiere at the Film Forum in Greenwich Village, the New York Times gave the film a favorable review:

“It is hard to watch Unlocking the Cage without being somewhat swayed by the arguments — or at least impressed by the sincerity — of Steven Wise, a leading animal-rights lawyer. . . Mr. Wise has argued that animals should have the legal status of persons. What this means is not that they should be classified as human, but rather that their rights should be acknowledged and protected under the law.”

The review contains a strong pro-animal rights message: “It is also possible that practices and attitudes now widely taken as natural will look arbitrary and cruel to future generations, and that the future will arrive sooner than many of us expect. It wouldn’t be the first time.”

Unlocking The Cage premiered in NYC on June 25th.

Unlocking The Cage premiered in NYC on May 25th.

Your Turn

To stay apprised of developments with Unlocking the Cage, please follow the film’s Facebook page.

To learn more about the groundbreaking work of the Nonhuman Rights Project, please visit the organization’s website.


Filed under: Entertainment, Experimentation
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Nonhuman Rights Project Files Lawsuit to Free Imprisoned Chimp

April 23, 2014 by Leave a Comment


The News

The NY Times reports that animal law professor Steven Wise and the Nonhuman Rights Project (Nh.R.P) have filed a lawsuit on behalf of a captive chimpanzee named Tommy, who is “the first nonhuman primate to ever sue a human captor in an attempt to gain his own freedom.” The Nh.R.P. plans to file similar lawsuits on behalf other great apes, dolphins, orcas, belugas, elephants and African gray parrots, all of whom have sophisticated cognitive abilities.

Chimps were chosen first because sanctuaries are prepared to take them if they win their freedom in court and because of the availability of research on their cognitive abilities: Advanced neurological and genetic research has shown that animals like chimpanzees, orcas and elephants possess self-awareness, self-determination and a sense of both the past and future. They have their own distinct languages, complex social interactions and tool use. They grieve and empathize and pass knowledge from one generation to the next. The very same attributes, in other words, that we once believed distinguished us from other animals.”

News & Opinion

Imprisoning animals in zoos, labs, aquariums or any other captive setting is cruel. Imagine the frustration, stress, anxiety and depression experienced by orcas at Sea World; circus elephants on trains; and chimps in small cages in university basements! Please learn about and support the ground-breaking legal work of the Nonhuman Rights Project to free animals from captivity.


Filed under: Entertainment
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