Group says chimps are like people – level 3

29-04-2015 07:00

An animal rights group has been granted a court hearing in which it will argue that two chimpanzees, who live at a New York state university, cannot be held captive because they’re autonomous, intelligent creatures.

A New York state judge has issued an order called a writ of habeas corpus requiring the state university of New York to defend its right to keep the primates Hercules and Leo. A writ of habeas corpus requires a person to be released from unlawful imprisonment.

In what is said to be the first case of its kind in the world, the Nonhuman Rights Project, claims that because chimpanzees are autonomous, intelligent creatures, their captivity amounts to unlawful imprisonment. They want the pair of chimps, who are used in research on physical movement at the university, to be sent to a sanctuary in Florida called Save the Chimps.

Under the law, such orders can only be granted to legal persons, so the judge would need to find that chimpanzees have at least some limited rights traditionally reserved for humans. The group is hoping a victory could spur similar cases on behalf of elephants, dolphins, whales and other intelligent animals. The hearing is scheduled for May 6th.

Difficult words: grant a court hearing (to give time to argue in court), autonomous (acting by their own), creature (a living thing), writ (a written law or command), claim (say), research (to study in an experiment), sanctuary (a safe place), spur (to encourage), on behalf (for), hearing (when people argue in court).



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