This elephant from the Bronx Zoo is not legally considered a “person”

This elephant from the Bronx Zoo is not legally considered a "person"

On June 14, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled in favor of an elephant that had lived in the Bronx Zoo for 45 years and wanted to move the non-human rights project Wildlife Sanctuary, an animal welfare organization. Contrary to the NhRP’s request, the court ruled that the elephant could not be considered a “legal person”, that is, a person with moral and legal rights under American law. It will therefore continue to be recognized as the property of the Bronx Zoo, which retains the right to decide the fate of the animal (so allow it to live alone in the 4,000 square meter fenced area it currently stands on).

The elephant known as Happy will remain at the zoo and will not be transferred to the sanctuary. This means another failure in court for people who want to give more rights to captive animals.

The laws of the United States – as well as the laws of most countries in the world – basically distinguish between two legal entities, “people” and “things” without the possibility of intermediate definitions: humans are individuals in the legal sense, but even companies. People have rights, includingHabeas corpus, Anglo-Saxon law protects against imprisonment without just cause, but this is not the case. If the New York State Court of Appeals had made a different decision in the case of Happy, it would have been a relevant example for many other animals, not living in good standing, according to organizations that defend their rights. But only two of the seven judges who spoke on the case were in favor of recognizing the animal’s legal status.

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Happy is from Thailand, 52 years old, and one of the first three elephants to prove in 2005 that they can recognize their own image in a mirror: although we know, only primates and dolphins can do this.

The NhRP tried to use this ability of Happy to convince the judges that they too should have equal rights as people and communities, but failed to convince them. “No one doubts the remarkable abilities of the elephants,” said Judge Janet Defier.Habeas corpus In the name of Happy. In fact, this legal instrument “guarantees the rights of human beings imprisoned illegally, not the rights of non-human animals”.

According to the NhRP, the place where he lives happily is too small for his needs, and not being in contact with other elephants makes his standard of living worse. Instead, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the zoo, the best thing about Happy’s well-being is that he stays alone: ​​it’s true that wild elephants live in herds, but Happy has its own personality and history. – Rather traumatic – So the current situation will be the best. However, the WCS has already stated that when Happy and other zoo elephants (Patty) die, they will not be replaced.

The NHRP said it was pleased that at least two judges had come forward in favor of recognition after the appeals court’s ruling.Habeas corpus To the delight: the organization will try to use their positions in another elephant rights case in California.

Arguing in favor of Happy’s legal status, Judge Jenny Rivera said, “His imprisonment is inherently unjust and inhumane. It’s an insult to civil society, every day she remains a prisoner, we lose something. ”

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