NY Court: Chimpanzees Aren’t “Persons”

It does seem a case of kismet that just a day after I posted my review of Solomon’s Freedom, a court has determined that chimpanzees do not have rights:

A chimpanzee is not entitled to the rights of a human and does not have to be freed by its owner, a New York appeals court ruled Thursday.

The three-judge Appellate Division panel was unanimous in denying “legal personhood” to Tommy, who lives alone in a cage in upstate Fulton County.

[ . . . ]

“So far as legal theory is concerned, a person is any being whom the law regards as capable of rights and duties,” the judges wrote. “Needless to say, unlike human beings, chimpanzees cannot bear any legal duties, submit to societal responsibilities or be held legally accountable for their actions.”

That, they ruled, makes it “inappropriate” to grant the rights of a human to the animal.

This should not deter you from reading Dennis Meredith’s fine book where — SPOILER ALERT — the judge bases his ruling on a different legal issue.



  1. Because of your review I began following this story, although I probably won’t read this particular book. Imagine my amazement when the story above appeared in our local paper, because the owner of the chimp in question lives just a few miles from here. I have known him most of my adult life…obviously not as well as I thought, as I had no idea that they had a chimp.

    • Oh, this is a great book and you should reconsider reading it if for nothing else than the entertainment value.

      Rights wise? I don’t know. I’m against all abuse of animals that are capable of feelings and such. How do I determine that? This might sound strange, but if animals like to “play,” I consider them off limits. That would include dogs, cats, and chimps.

      It’s a tough issue and all of the arguments in Meredith’s book have valid points. He just wraps them in a very good read.

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