"What we're asking for is for chimps to have one basic fundamental right to bodily liberty," Natalie Prosin, Executive Director of NRP, told The Dodo.
"We're not making claim for chimps to have the right to vote, or drive a car or become citizens. If this right to bodily liberty is granted, Tommy will be transferred to a sanctuary."
Tommy, who was raised from infancy in a troupe of performing circus chimps, now lives in a cage on a used trailer lot in Gloversville, New York without other chimps. Representatives from the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance have offered to retire him to a sanctuary where he can live with other chimps, but his owner has refused.
The case is one of three others like it being appealed by NRP in New York. The second case involves Leo and Hercules, two chimps being kept at Stony Brook University, while the third case concerns a chimp named Kiko, who's being held on private property in Niagara Falls, N.Y. The organization is planning on filing many more cases in coming years - the plan is to file one case on behalf of one or more elephants and another case on behalf of one or more chimps.