Chimps granted human rights, recognized as 'legal persons'
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.
"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