Happiness is an Asian elephant, depending on the species. But can she also be considered a person?
The question was in front of the Supreme Court of New York on Wednesday in a case that was carefully watched over whether basic human rights could be extended to animals.
Proponents of the Nonhuman Rights Project, “Happy” is an autonomous, cognitively complex elephant that deserves the rights reserved by law for “people.”
The Bronx Zoo, where Happy lives, says no. Through lawyers, the zoo claims that Happy is neither illegally imprisoned nor a person, but her well-maintained elephant “she is respected as a wonderful creature.”
Happy has lived in the Bronx Zoo for 45 years. The State Court of Appeals heard a debate over whether she should be released through the Habeas Corpus proceedings. This is how people challenge illegal imprisonment.
The non-human rights project wants her to move from the zoo’s “one-acre prison” to a more spacious sanctuary.
“She is interested in exercising her choices and deciding who she wants to be with, where she goes, what she should do, and what she eats,” project lawyer Monica Miller said in oral argument. I told the Associated Press earlier. “And the zoo forbids her to make those choices herself.”
According to the group, Happy became the first elephant to pass the self-awareness indicator test in 2005 by repeatedly touching the white “X” on the forehead while looking in a large mirror.
Zoos and their supporters warn that a supporter’s victory in a non-human rights project could open the door to more legal action on behalf of animals, including zoo pets and other species. I am.
“If the unprecedented rewriting and granting of rights to animals is complete, shouldn’t it be done by the legislature?” Kenneth Manning, zoo operator lawyer Wild animals The Conservation Society asked the judge.
Happy was born in the wild in Asia in the early 1970s and was captured and brought to the United States at the age of one, where she was eventually named after Snow White and one of the seven dwarf characters.
She arrived at the Bronx Zoo in 1977.
Happy currently lives in an enclosure adjacent to Patty, another elephant in the zoo. Zoo lawyers claimed in court documents that Happy could swim, look for food, and take other actions that are natural for elephants.
“Blatant exploitation of the elephant’s happiness to advance the NRP-adjusted agenda does not show concern for individual animals and is willing to sacrifice happiness’s health and psychological well-being to set a precedent. We will reveal the fact that there is no such thing, “the zoo said in a prepared statement.
NRP lawyers say her right to “freedom” is violated no matter how Happy is treated at the zoo. They claim that if the court grants her happy right to her freedom under Habeas Corpus, she will be a “person” for her purposes. And she has to be released.
The judge asked the questions pointed out by both lawyers during the oral argument. Judge Jenni Rivera asked Miller about the impact of NRP’s position on the relationship between humans and animals.
“So you couldn’t keep a dog?” Rivera asked. “That is, dogs can remember words.”
According to Miller, there is now more evidence that elephants are very cognitively complex and highly analytical.
The lower court ruled against the NRP. And the group couldn’t win in similar cases, including one involving a chimpanzee named Tommy in northern New York.
However, in October last year, at the request of another animal rights group, A federal judge has ruled The infamous “cocaine cover” of Colombian drug king Pablo Escobar may be recognized as a legally entitled person or “stakeholder” in the United States. Given that they live in Colombia, this decision had no real effect on the hippo itself.
The person in the room?Court Maru US News If Elephants Have Human Rights
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