Skip to main content
  1. News
  2. Politics
  3. Nonpartisan

Nonhuman Rights Project seeks "legal personhood" for chimps

See also

Don't look now PETA, but someone is stealing your shtick.

Yesterday, the non-profit Nonhuman Rights Project filed what it claimed is the first lawsuit seeking to establish the "legal personhood" of chimpanzees.

Specifically, the NRP is petitioning a New York state court to declare Tommy, a 26-year-old chimpanzee, "a cognitively complex autonomous legal person with the fundamental legal right not to be imprisoned."

The lawsuit seeks a declaration that Tommy's "detention" is unlawful and demands his immediate release to a primate sanctuary.

Chimpanzees "possess complex cognitive abilities that are so strictly protected when they're found in human beings," said Steven Wise, the president of Nonhuman Rights Project, told Reuters. "There's no reason why they should not be protected when they're found in chimpanzees."

While this may be the first time "legal personhood" has been sought for a nonhuman, this is not the first lawsuit of its kind. Ingrid Newkirk and the aforementioned People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had previously tried to sue Sea World for slavery.

Similar to the typical PETA lawsuit, the petition for "legal personhood" should be taken as nothing more than a grab for attention. Beyond this, nothing is being asked for that should not be covered under already existing animal welfare laws.



  • Mt. Everest avalanche
    Disaster strikes Mt. Everest as at least 12 people were killed in an avalanche
    Watch Video
  • Most Earthlike planet discovered
    The Kepler telescope has discovered the most Earthlike, possibly habitable planet yet
    Space News
  • Easter crosses create debate
    Easter crosses spark a debate of separation of church and state in Ohio
  • Chelsea Clinton is preggers
    Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child
  • Stanley Cup playoffs
    The battle for Lord Stanley's Cup is on, don't miss a minute of playoff action
  • Ukraine discussed amongst U.S., E.U., Russia
    The U.S., E.U. and Russia agree on ways to diffuse the tension in Ukraine
    Watch Video

User login

Log in
Sign in with your email and password. Or reset your password.
Write for us
Interested in becoming an Examiner and sharing your experience and passion? We're always looking for quality writers. Find out more about and apply today!