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US court rules against recognizing chimpanzees Hercules and Leo as persons

July 31, 2015, 8:24 UTC+3 NEW YORK
US animal-advocacy group Nonhuman Rights Project insisted on relocating two research chimpanzees to a sanctuary in Florida as, according to the group, they were kept in captivity against their will
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© AP Photo/Pat Sullivan

NEW YORK, July 31. /TASS/. A court in the US city of New York ruled on Thursday against recognizing two chimpanzees, Hercules and Leo, as persons and refused the both granting the rights bestowed by so-called personhood, i.e. the status of being a person.

US animal-advocacy group Nonhuman Rights Project earlier argued in court that Hercules and Leo, kept at the Stony Brook University on Long Island as research chimpanzees for some five years, were of the same intellectual level as humans.

The group insisted on relocating the two mammals to a sanctuary in Florida as, according to the group, the two chimpanzees were kept in captivity against their will.

Judge Barbara Jaffe of New York County Supreme Court in Manhattan ruled, however, against the arguments stating that "The similarities between chimpanzees and humans inspire the empathy felt for a beloved pet."

The judge said chimpanzees could succeed sometime in the future in obtaining the personhood and, thus, not be imprisoned against their will, as it was claimed by the US animal-advocacy group, but "Courts, however, are slow to embrace change."

President of the Nonhuman Rights Project Steven Wise said he was going to appeal the court’s verdict at a higher instance.

US daily The Wall Street Journal quoted Wise as saying: ""We were not unhappy with the case at all. We think it’s another step forward for personhood for chimpanzees in the state of New York."

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