Posted May 28, 2015
A lawyer seeking to free two chimpanzees from a state university told a judge Wednesday that their confinement for research purposes is akin to slavery, the involuntary detention of people with mental illnesses and imprisonment, according to Midland Daily News. Daily Mail also published an article available hereand Daily News here.
Steven Wise, an attorney with the Nonhuman Rights Project, told Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Barbara Jaffe in a nearly two-hour hearing that Hercules and Leo are “autonomous and self-determining beings” who should be granted a writ of habeas corpus and be moved from Stony Brook University on Long Island to a sanctuary in Florida.
“They’re essentially in solitary confinement,” Wise told the judge before a crowd of about 100 people packed into the Manhattan courthouse’s ceremonial courtroom. “This is what we do to the worst human criminal.”
Christopher Coulston, an assistant state attorney general representing the university, countered that chimpanzees are a different species from human beings, according to Daily News.
“The Great Writ(of habeus corpus)should be for human beings,” he said.
He also accused Wise of “venue shopping” because they’ve lost similar bids in three other counties.
The judge reserved decision.
The 8-year-old chimps, who did not attend the hearing, are used for locomotion studies at Stony Brook, according to Daily Mail.
Coulston argued that the case was meritless on procedural grounds because the venue was improper and because granting the chimps personhood would create a slippery slope regarding the rights of other animals.
Two other cases are pending in state court.
Jaffe didn’t make a ruling but thanked both sides for an ‘extremely interesting and well argued’ proceeding.
For more information on animal welfare, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website here.