Chimps granted human rights, recognized as 'legal persons'

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Judge Grants Chimps Human Legal Rights

For the first time in history, a judge has recognized animals as legal persons.

According to American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, New York Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffe decreed two chimpanzees held in a research lab at Stony Brook University are covered by a writ of habeas corpus, granting the chimps the same human rights as a prisoner.

Animal rights group Nonhuman Rights Project claims the university is unlawfully imprisoning chimps Hercules and Leo, and says they should be relocated to an animal sanctuary. The lawsuit was originally filed back in 2013, but was quickly thrown out. The group has been appealing ever since, and their tireless efforts seem to have paid off.

8 PHOTOS
Nonhuman rights chimp
See Gallery
Chimps granted human rights, recognized as 'legal persons'
@NonhumanRights In Historic Ruling, Court Recognizes 2Chimps as Legal Persons http://t.co/NnTE09xxn0 @earthtransition http://t.co/mBsLa9Yq6W
Congrats to @NonhumanRights on the first ever writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a nonhuman! http://t.co/RitLaKJJwP
Attorney Steven Wise of the Nonhuman Rights Project argues on behalf of Tommy, a chimpanzee, before the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division on Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, in Albany, N.Y. The court will decide whether chimpanzees should be declared "persons" rather than "things" so the animals can be freed from what critics call inhumane imprisonment. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Huge victory for nonhuman animals, thank you Steven Wise @NonhumanRights http://t.co/r3PC6ri9jE #captivitykills http://t.co/ZiBfR82Mzx
Attorney Steven Wise of the Nonhuman Rights Project talks to reporters after arguing on behalf of Tommy, a chimpanzee, at the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division on Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, in Albany, N.Y. The court will decide whether chimpanzees should be declared "persons" rather than "things" so the animals can be freed from what critics call inhumane imprisonment. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Presiding Justice Karen Peters of the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division Third Department poses a question to Attorney Steven Wise of the Nonhuman Rights Project during arguments at the court on Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, in Albany, N.Y. Wise argued on behalf of Tommy, a chimpanzee who lives alone in a cage in upstate New York. The court will decide whether chimpanzees should be declared "persons" rather than "things" so the animals can be freed from what critics call inhumane imprisonment. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
2 chimpanzees granted “legal persons” status in historic ruling following @NonhumanRights case http://t.co/4UvQld3HZt http://t.co/7dWPKWVMt6
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

"This is a big step forward to getting what we are ultimately seeking: the right to bodily liberty for chimpanzees and other cognitively complex animals," the executive director of the organization said. "We got our foot in the door. And no matter what happens, that door can never be completely shut again."

The New York Supreme Court Justice ordered a Stony Brook University representative to appear in court in May to respond to the petition before deciding whether the research lab can keep the chimps or if they should be moved to a sanctuary in Florida.

By granting the writ, the judge implicitly acknowledges apes are people.

More on AOL:
UNHCR: weekend shipwreck deadliest ever in Mediterranean
Penalty phase opens in Boston Marathon bombing trial
Widow sues Southwest Airlines after husband dies on O.C.-bound plane

Read Full Story

People are Reading