New York Court: Chimps Are Still Property, Not People


What has thumbs and no habeas corpus entitlement? Chimpanzees. A Manhattan Supreme Court judge ruled Thursday that chimps are still viewed as property, not people, under the law.

The lawsuit was filed by the Nonhuman Rights Project, a group that wanted two research chimps — named Hercules and Leo — out of confinement.

NPR’s Hansi Lo Wang reports “the animal rights group was trying to get them released to a sanctuary by arguing that the chimps have complex cognitive abilities and should be considered legal ‘persons.’ In the ruling, Justice Barbara Jaffe acknowledges that similarities between chimpanzees and humans ‘inspire the empathy for a beloved pet.’ ”

The judge wrote that someday they may get legal rights, but that courts don’t embrace change quickly. The chimps are held by Stony Brook University.

As we reported previously, this isn’t the first time that the Nonhuman Rights Project has presented its case in court — Justice Jaffe heard arguments in May.

Science provided the legal background:

“The case began as a salvo of lawsuits filed by NhRP in December of 2013. The group claimed that four New York chimpanzees — Hercules and Leo at Stony Brook, and two others on private property — were too cognitively and emotionally complex to be held in captivity and should be relocated to an established chimpanzee sanctuary. NhRP petitioned three lower court judges with a writ of habeas corpus, which is traditionally used to prevent people from being unlawfully imprisoned. By granting the writ, the judges would have implicitly acknowledged that chimpanzees were legal people too — a first step in freeing them.”

Bristol, UK: Animal liberation gathering [9-11th June]


A gathering aimed at rebuilding and progressing the animal liberation movement. It will be coming from an anarchist perspective and will be especially looking at animal exploitation as a result of capitalism and domestication and how best to challenge it in this context.

We would like to avoid getting distracted with discussions around the pros and cons of reformism, vegan outreach or other liberal, animal rights concerns. While we think it is useful for these conversations to take place we want this weekend to be about coming up with an action plan, between us, to move things forward.

If this is something you are interested in being part of we would love to hear from you. We are really hoping that this gathering will be a collective project and if anyone wants to be part of organising beforehand or during the weekend that would be amazing.

We are keen for the gathering not to be purely theoretical and want definite plans to come out of it. We hope for there to be a mix of practical, theoretical and strategic workshops and discussions, all of which will be as participatory as possible. If you have a workshop or discussion that you would like to see happen or that you can offer, let us know.

We look forward to hearing from you

Liberation! collective


Someone Drenched Denmark’s Iconic Little Mermaid Statue in Red Paint

Denmark Little Mermaid Statue

By: Aric Jenkins

A vandal used a bold — and eerie — method to get a point across in Denmark.

Copenhagen’s famed Little Mermaid statue was found drenched in red paint on Tuesday with a message in English written on the ground in front of the figurine, the Associated Press reports: “Denmark defend the whales of the Faroe Islands.”

The caption was likely a reference to the practice of hunting pilot whales around the North Atlantic islands that are under Danish control, local media said. Faroe Island authorities allow locals to hunt pilot whales during the summer by luring them into shallow waters and stabbing them to death. The practice is non-commercial, and a tradition that dates back to the 16th century.

According to the American Cetacean Society, pilot whales are not endangered and there are likely to be more than a million pilot whales currently alive worldwide. Faroe Island residents kill approximately 800 of the whales every year, the AP reports.

The Little Mermaid statue was created by Danish sculptor Edvard Eriksen as a tribute to Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, who wrote a number of popular fairy tales that have been adapted into films, including The Ugly Duckling and Thumbelina. The sculpture has been a major tourist attraction in Copenhagen since its placement in 1913 and has been the victim of vandalism many times throughout its history.

China’s Gruesome Dog Meat Festival Has Been Canceled, Say Activists

Dogs for sale are kept in a cage in Dashichang dog market on the day of local dog meat festival in Yulin

By Charlie Campbell

Could the barbarity be at an end? It just might according to jubilant animal rights activists, who say this year’s Yulin dog meat festival — where 2,000 to 3,000 canines are rounded up, forced into cramped cages, bludgeoned to death and eaten — has been canceled by authorities in the southern Chinese city.

Citing local sources, campaign groups say the sale of dog meat has been banned from a week prior to the June 21 annual festival, with offenders facing arrest and fines of $15,000. The move was apparently ordered by Yulin’s new Chinese Communist Party Secretary Mo Gong Ming in a bid to reform the city’s image after a sustained international outcry. A petition calling for the festival to be abolished gained 11 million signatures last year.

“Even if this is a temporary ban, we hope this will have a domino effect, leading to the collapse of the dog meat trade,” says Andrea Gung, executive director of Duo Duo Project, an anti-dog and cat meat campaign group. “This ban is consistent with my experience that Yulin and the rest of the country are changing for the better.”

However, it is unclear how any ban can be enforced, especially when the annual festival brings a healthy injection of cash to the city of 7 million. As the event has never been officially sanctioned, some advocates doubt the government’s ability to prevent individuals from partaking.

“Eating dog has been Yulin people’s tradition for quite a long time,” Ms. Tan, the owner of Three-Six Delicious Meat Restaurant in Yulin, tells TIME by phone. “I haven’t heard our government will stop the festival, or stop the selling of dog meat.”

While eating dog and cat has historic cultural roots in China, like many Asian nations, activists say the Yulin festival was only concocted in 2010 by dog meat traders and tenuously linked to the summer solstice. In fact, dog meat is much more common in China’s rural north, even as the nation’s burgeoning urban middle class increasingly keep well-preened pedigrees as pets.

“More people like dogs now, and especially in Beijing a lot have pet dogs,” says housewife Cheng Jie, while walking her four-year-old Pekingese by Beijing’s Houhai Lake. “But because there is rabies, a lot of people are still afraid of dogs and many parents teach their children to be wary of dogs.”

Activists say most of the 10 million dogs and around four million cats killed for meat each year in China are strays and stolen pets. The unregulated nature of the trade helps the spread of rabies and cholera, according to the World Health Organization. China has the second highest number of reported rabies cases in the world, with an average of 2,000 deaths per year for the past 10 years. About 90% of cases are due to dog bites.

“Most dog meat currently on the market doesn’t have a legal certificate,” says Li Weimin, a lawyer based in Beijing who has worked on the legality of dog meat. “It’s hard to tell the enforcement of the new rule in Yulin, but it’s progress. Other cities will watch Yulin closely and may follow its example.”

Even so, economics means the wider dog meat trade will likely continue. Because the majority of dog meat comes from stolen pets, there are no rearing costs, making it much cheaper than pork, chicken or beef, for example. Activists want stricter enforcement on existing prohibitions on the transportation of live animals to stamp out the trade for good.

“The Yulin dog meat festival is not over just yet,” says Peter Li, China Policy specialist at Humane Society International. “But if this news is true as we hope, it is a really big nail in the coffin for a gruesome event that has come to symbolize China’s crime-fueled dog meat trade.”

Edited For

What chimpanzees deserve: Attorney who represents Tommy and Kiko makes the case for their legal personhood

Exported.; ray;

By:Steven M.Wise

I am an attorney for two chimpanzees, Tommy and Kiko. Unlike most attorneys, I have spent no time with my clients, because they are “owned” by people in upstate New York, held captive without the company of other chimpanzees in an environment radically different from their natural habitat.

Thursday, with the support of other lawyers and supporters across the globe, I will argue before a New York appeals court that Tommy and Kiko are legal “persons” with the fundamental right to bodily liberty. We will argue that, as autonomous beings, they have the right to be released from captivity and sent to an appropriate sanctuary.

Chimpanzees communicate with humans using sign language and computers. They make and use tools, have the capacity to imagine, understand the past and plan for the future, are aware of their environments, recognize themselves in mirrors, and take care of orphaned baby chimpanzees. In captivity, they can experience depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Our legal claims are based on the best scientific findings on genetics, intelligence, emotions and social lives of these animals showing they are self-aware, autonomous beings.

Chimpanzees are not the only animals who are autonomous and self-aware. Gorillas cry when they are sad. Elephants mourn other elephants in their herd when they die. The size of a dolphin’s brain, compared to their body size, is second only to humans. All of these animals are aware of their environments and recognize themselves in mirrors. We are in the midst of planning litigation on behalf of elephants and dolphins as well.

In court, we aren’t arguing chimpanzees should have the same rights as humans. We are arguing that courts must recognize them as “persons” with the capacity for fundamental rights appropriate to the kind of beings that evolving standards of morality, scientific discovery, and human experience unequivocally tell us they are. They are not legal “things,” though this is how they’re currently viewed and treated. And legal personhood is not about biology, but rather, public policy, as a lower court agreed in another of our chimpanzee rights cases.

Tommy lives in a cage without companionship, with only a television and a radio to entertain him. To treat him as a thing destroys him in the same way we would be destroyed in solitary confinement. The solution is to place him and Kiko in sanctuaries with other chimpanzees where they will be safe.

Once a wild nonhuman animal is taken from the wild, placed in captivity and forced to depend on humans for food and shelter, a return to the wild can be very difficult if not deadly. Chimpanzees, elephants, dolphins and whales are social, territorial nonhumans, relying on family and community to exist in their natural habitats.

Without a social structure and community, he or she will have a difficult time surviving, which is particularly threatening for wild nonhuman animals born in captivity. But it is our duty to do right by these animals.

When Tommy and Kiko are finally recognized as legal persons with the fundamental right to bodily liberty, they will be able to live freely at Save the Chimps in Fort Pierce, Florida in an environment as close to chimpanzees’ natural habitat as is possible in North America. With 190 acres, including twelve three-acre islands, it’s the largest chimpanzee sanctuary in the world, providing a home to 257 chimpanzee residents—all of whom have, in one way or another, suffered at the hands of humans because of their legal thinghood.

Recognition of Tommy’s and Kiko’s rights will mean—for them—a long awaited freedom to live their lives as they choose in an environment that honors their autonomy

The argument itself will mark an important milestone in the evolution of how we view and treat other animals, culturally and legally. These changes are well underway, as we saw most recently in 2016 when an Argentina judge recognized a captive chimpanzee as a “non-human person” based on similar arguments we’ve made in New York courts since 2013.

As the HBO documentary “Unlocking the Cage” makes clear, animals like Tommy and Kiko—undeniably cognitively and emotionally complex—should not live, indeed cannot truly live, in cages. For three decades, I have been fighting for the legal rights of nonhuman rights. Tommy and Kiko have suffered for almost as long. For these beings, and all who share their plight, having their day in court is a victory in itself, though they will never know it. All they will know, in the end, is that they are  free. It’s for us humans—inside and outside courtrooms—to ensure this happens.

Wise is president of the Nonhuman Rights Project.



Environmentalists protest hunting bison plan in Poland

FILE - In this March 16, 2010 file photo bison are pictured at a reserve in the Bialowieza forest, in Bialowieza, eastern Poland. Environmentalists are protesting plans by the authorities to allow hunters to kill 10 bison in the Borecka forest saying the protected animals should be allowed to die of natural causes. Greenpeace had gathered well over 7,000 signatures by Monday afternoon, Jan. 2, 2017, on a letter asking Prime Minister Beata Szydlo to stop the plan. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, file)

Environmentalists are protesting Poland’s plan to allow hunters to shoot bison, while authorities say it is necessary for the well-being of the herd and will earn money for its upkeep.

Greenpeace had gathered well over 7,000 signatures by Monday afternoon on a letter asking Prime Minister Beata Szydlo to stop the plan. They say Europe’s largest mammals, which live in old-growth forests in northeastern Poland, are protected by law and a symbol of Poland’s nature.

Environment authorities have allowed the hunting of 10 bison in the Borecka forest, saying the herd there is too large and threatened with tuberculosis. They say limited hunting allows for a controlled elimination of weak animals, while earning funds to support the others.