Fighting for elephants' personhood and rights
Litigation - Article Series from All-Creatures.org Articles Archive

FROM

Steven M. Wise, President, NHRP Nonhuman Rights Project
December 2018 Litigation ~ Fighting for elephants' personhood and rights

In our argument, we focused on why an autonomous being such as Happy is a legal person with the fundamental right to bodily liberty protected by a common law writ of habeas corpus.

The New York Supreme Court, Orleans County heard oral arguments on December 14, 2018 in a landmark elephant rights case brought by the Nonhuman Rights Project on behalf of our client Happy, a 47-year-old Asian elephant held alone in captivity at the Bronx Zoo. The proceeding was the world’s first habeas corpus hearing on behalf of an elephant and the second habeas corpus hearing on behalf of a nonhuman animal in the US, both of which were secured by the NhRP.

In our argument, we focused on why an autonomous being such as Happy is a legal person with the fundamental right to bodily liberty protected by a common law writ of habeas corpus.

Saying she had “always enjoyed elephants,” Justice Tracey A. Bannister ended the hearing by indicating she would likely grant the Bronx Zoo's motion to have the case heard in Bronx County. The NhRP awaits the written order so that we can determine our next steps. Our options include having Happy's case heard in Bronx County, re-filing Happy's case in another County, and/or appealing the Orleans County decision to the Fourth Department appellate court in Rochester. We expect to take our next steps within about a month. You can read more about the hearing here.

Thank you to all our supporters for standing with Happy and the NhRP today and every day. Together, we will continue to move forward in the fight for nonhuman rights. We are also deeply grateful to the superb elephant experts—Joyce Poole, Cynthia Moss, Lucy Bates, Richard Byrne, Karen McComb, and Ed Stewart—who have submitted affidavits in support of Happy's fundamental right to bodily liberty and transfer to an elephant sanctuary.

It is an honor for all of us at the NhRP to have your continued support as we fight for our clients' liberty. Many thanks and speak to you again soon!

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