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.”
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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.