7 min read

Court Rejects Chimp Personhood Suit


The hearing, conducted over the phone by Judge Ralph A. Boniello, III and attorneys from the Nonhuman Rights Project, a group that supports legal rights for chimpanzees, ended in the judge's denial of a habeas corpus writ for a 26-year-old chimp named Kiko. Had the writ been granted, Kiko's owners would have been ordered to appear in court and justify his detainment, thus opening the door to consideration of something unprecedented in American history: the possibility of legal personhood for a non-human animal.
While this was the third rejection for the group, they have announced plans to appeal the decisions, with appellate court hearings expected in 2014. The main tenet of their suit is that chimps should be legally treated as persons with a right not be owned or imprisoned. This is not to say that they should have all the rights of full humans, but rather that they should not be treated as property under the law. In a tweet, the group said in a tweet, the project said, "we will file as many cases as we can afford.""Judges are busy people. They may not have the time or energy or inclination to begin to grasp this the first or second or even fifth time around," Steve Wise, the Nonhuman Rights Project's founder and lead attorney, told Wired. "But I think eventually they will grasp it, and see the power of the facts and the legal arguments we're presenting."To read more about exactly what the Nonhuman Rights Project's goals are here, click here.


The hearing, conducted over the phone by Judge Ralph A. Boniello, III and attorneys from the Nonhuman Rights Project, a group that supports legal rights for chimpanzees, ended in the judge's denial of a habeas corpus writ for a 26-year-old chimp named Kiko. Had the writ been granted, Kiko's owners would have been ordered to appear in court and justify his detainment, thus opening the door to consideration of something unprecedented in American history: the possibility of legal personhood for a non-human animal.


While this was the third rejection for the group, they have announced plans to appeal the decisions, with appellate court hearings expected in 2014. The main tenet of their suit is that chimps should be legally treated as persons with a right not be owned or imprisoned. This is not to say that they should have all the rights of full humans, but rather that they should not be treated as property under the law. In a tweet, the group said in a tweet, the project said, "we will file as many cases as we can afford.""Judges are busy people. They may not have the time or energy or inclination to begin to grasp this the first or second or even fifth time around," Steve Wise, the Nonhuman Rights Project's founder and lead attorney, told Wired. "But I think eventually they will grasp it, and see the power of the facts and the legal arguments we're presenting."To read more about exactly what the Nonhuman Rights Project's goals are here, click here.

While this was the third rejection for the group, they have announced plans to appeal the decisions, with appellate court hearings expected in 2014. The main tenet of their suit is that chimps should be legally treated as persons with a right not be owned or imprisoned. This is not to say that they should have all the rights of full humans, but rather that they should not be treated as property under the law. In a tweet, the group said in a tweet, the project said, "we will file as many cases as we can afford."

"Judges are busy people. They may not have the time or energy or inclination to begin to grasp this the first or second or even fifth time around," Steve Wise, the Nonhuman Rights Project's founder and lead attorney, told Wired. "But I think eventually they will grasp it, and see the power of the facts and the legal arguments we're presenting."

To read more about exactly what the Nonhuman Rights Project's goals are here, click here.