A group of judges heard arguments on behalf of Tommy, a 26-year-old chimpanzee, at the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division in Albany on Wednesday. The case is an appeal of a decision handed down last December that said Tommy couldn't be treated as a "legal person."
Lawyers from the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), the organization that brought the suit, are asking the state to grant a writ of habeas corpus, a measure that protects prisoners from being held illegally. Tommy lives without other chimps as a pet in a shed in Gloversville, New York. NhRP argues that Tommy should be moved to one of several sanctuaries that have offered to take him, so he can be free from confinement and live with other chimps.
Natalie Prosin, Executive Director of NhRP, told The Dodo that the arguments went well:
"The NhRP is pleased with today's oral argument which was presented to a packed courtroom. We were allotted 10 minutes to argue, but given 22 minutes. The court was well informed and actively engaged. For virtually the entire time the panel asked questions that went to the heart of the case. We do not expect a decision for another four to six weeks."