Update: court rules chimp not endowed with human rights

“A chimpanzee is not entitled to the same rights as people and does not have be freed from captivity by its owner, a US court has ruled. The appeals court in New York state said caged chimpanzee Tommy could not be recognized as a ‘legal person’ as it ‘cannot bear any legal duties'”. [BBC, earlier]

More: Adam Kolber, PrawfsBlawg, and comments (“speciesism”).


  • …entitled to the same rights

    That’s quite the phrase. Quite the phrase.

  • Glad we cleared that up.

  • But my emotional support pig still has hers, right? She’s much cuter than any chimp.

  • Tommy could not be recognized as a ‘legal person’ as it ‘cannot bear any legal duties.
    I love that explanation.
    Maybe some wise-guy will take it and run with it. Apply it to the population and see how much trouble he can cause.

  • My question to the activists is what would have happened if they won? (Just in this case, not the larger implications) Would they have just put the chimp out on the street? Would an activist have taken him into their home? Maybe they were going to apply for welfare for the chimp and set him up in his own apartment? Return him to Africa where he suddenly has to live in the wild?


  • My 7 month old grandson ‘cannot bear any legal duties’.
    So according to the court, the difference is what?

  • @marco73,

    The court addresses that. It’s not just that this chimp ‘cannot bear any legal duties’ it’s that no chimp can and they will never be able to do so, unlike your grand son who will eventually be able to bear those legal duties.

    It should also be noted, that under long standing law humans with a diminished capacity to meet those legal duties, minors like your grandson and the mentally infirm, do have somewhat diminished rights relative to a healthy adult.

  • MattS is right. Though it may sound paradoxical, babies do have legal duties and can be sued, for example over the right to wrongly inherited property. The same is true of older persons who are in a coma or otherwise without the capacity to make decisions.