First monkeys, now elephants. The Nonhuman Rights Project (NRP) filed court documents in October, arguing that Happy the elephant should have the same rights as a person.
At issue is Happy’s living conditions since losing her companion to an accident in 2006. The NRP wants to relocate Happy to an elephant sanctuary.
The NRP filed a habeas corpus petition in Orleans County, approximately 280 miles away from Happy’s current home – the Bronx Zoo. According to a Wildlife Conservation Society news release, the animal rights group chose the distant location because [the NRP] “shopped for a friendly court to file its lawsuit and chose Orleans County as a stage to advance an academic exercise as to whether Happy is ‘illegally imprisoned.’”
“The NRP has chosen to exploit Happy and capitalize on the Bronx Zoo name to advance its failed political agenda,” said Jim Breheny, Director of the Bronx Zoo and Executive Vice President of Zoos & Aquarium at the Wildlife Conservation Society. “They continue to waste court resources to promote their radical philosophical view of ‘personhood.’
“The NRP’s own filings do not question Happy’s care or our facilities, but seek to have her recognized as an autonomous being and transferred to an elephant sanctuary.
“As we work through this process initiated by the NRP, we are forced to defend ourselves against a group that doesn’t know us or the animal in question, who has absolutely no legal standing, and is demanding to take control over the life and future of an elephant that we have known and cared for over 40 years.”
In a victory for the Bronx Zoo, and sanity, the New York Supreme Court in Orleans ruled that the petition should be heard in Bronx County.
In spite of the change of venue, the NRP has vowed to keep fighting. NRP founder Steven M. Wise tweeted: “We are on the cusp of changing the legal relationship between nonhuman animals and humans. The time is now to push even harder, as hard as we can. And keep pushing until we win.”
Let’s hope common sense prevails and the only entities given human rights are…humans.