Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of Four NYC Chimpanzees

Quit monkeying around

An activist group in New York recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of four chimpanzees currently living in captivity in various locations around the state. The suit is asking the courts to realize that these complex animals deserve “the right to bodily liberty” as any human has. Steven M. Wise, founder and president of the Nonhuman Rights Project states, “When we go to court on behalf of the first chimpanzee plaintiffs, we’ll be asking judges to recognize, for the first time, that these cognitively complex, autonomous beings have the basic legal right to not be imprisoned”. The group will be taking the stand in court for chimps Tommy, Kiko, Hercules, and Leo who are being wrongfully caged by their owners. They state that this will be the first of many lawsuits across the country fighting for the rights of captive creatures.

Spain’s Parliament passed a resolution in 2008 claiming that Apes are to be considered legal persons. Although the chimpanzees do not understand what a lawsuit is, there is legal merit in the fact that they will benefit directly from being represented. This particular lawsuit is asking that the four caged chimpanzees be moved to a sanctuary where they can flourish in a comfortable environment. However, one can simply not file a lawsuit on behalf of all captive animals, as the suit needs to state a specific issue for an individual plaintiff. Elephants, dolphins, and whales are three of the other species the group is looking to represent in similar cases.

Owners of the chimps have declined comment on the lawsuit. These species of animals have been proven to be autonomous and self-aware, and deserve to gain such human liberties. However, how can such activist groups decide which animals should stay in captivity and which should not? This lawsuit will pave the way for further lawsuits by activist groups across the country fighting for the rights of animals.