Perhaps many of us have seen a version of this familiar story unfold on the set of a television drama. In a groundbreaking case, a chimpanzee takes the stand while his attorney uses sign language to defend his right to freedom from captivity. While the details won’t play out exactly like this in an upcoming hearing next month, something groundbreaking has happened in U.S. legal history for animals. Brought by attorneys from the Nonhuman Rights Project, a precedent-setting lawsuit seeks a “writ of habeas corpus” for Hercules and Leo, two chimpanzees currently held in a New York research institute. Advocates hope that this step will allow them to successfully challenge the chimps’ detainment while answering a fundamental question: whether nonhuman animals can be entitled to the right of bodily liberty. Last week, the nonprofit received a bit of potentially positive news after a New York judge issued an order to show cause, compelling the defendants to provide legal justification for their detainment. If the nonprofit prevails, the chimps could be moved to a sanctuary within the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance.
The WAN blog allows us to share our expertise in the fields of policy, science, communications, management, and more in a manner that animal protection organizations can easily incorporate into their everyday work for animals. The blog also provides the opportunity to highlight important work of individual organizations and campaigns, and allows researchers, experts, and others outside of WAN to provide useful information to the animal protection community.