US court could give chimpanzees rights as persons


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For legal purposes, animals are often recognised as things

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Washington: The lawyer who is leading a legal fight on behalf of two chimps in a US court has said that chimpanzees will be given special legal rights recognizing them as "autonomous and self-determining" beings.


Professor Steven Wise, president of the Nonhuman Rights Project, said that this was the first time they had got this far and that it was just "a matter of time" before chimpanzees got the status they deserved, reported The Guardian. He added that millions of humans are given rights without responsibilities as some of them are insane or just too young.


Wise is leading a high-profile case in New York to secure the release of two chimps, Hercules and Leo, held at the Stony Brook University in New York. While denying that the chimps would or should be given human rights , he said that he believed people are finally starting to take his claim seriously that chimps are being unlawfully held in zoos and research labs and deserve to be granted "personhood."


The professor argued that animals are treated like "things" not "persons" and have no rights. He also pointed out that at one time, children, women and slaves were not considered persons either, but rather the property of men.


Wise expects his 30-year fight could end soon be over with a court ruling expected on May 27.