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The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) is an American nonprofit animal rights organization seeking to change the legal status of at least some nonhuman animals from that of property to that of persons, with a goal of securing rights to bodily liberty (the right not to be imprisoned) and bodily integrity (the right not to be experimented on). The organization works largely through state-by-state litigation in what it determines to be the most appropriate common law jurisdictions and bases its arguments on existing scientific evidence concerning self-awareness and autonomy in nonhuman animals.
The mission of the Nonhuman Rights Project is, through education and litigation, to change the common law status of at least some nonhuman animals from mere "things", which lack the capacity to possess any legal right, to "persons", who possess such fundamental rights as bodily integrity and bodily liberty and those other legal rights to which evolving standards of morality, scientific discovery, and human experience entitle them.
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
On June 29, 2023 filed a habeas corpus petition in the 4th Judicial District Court demanding the release to a sanctuary of five female elephants, Jambo, Kimba, Kimba Lou, Luck and Missy currently held in captivity at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.
In 2018, the Nonhuman Rights Project brought a petition for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of Happy, an elephant residing at the Bronx Zoo, seeking recognition of her fundamental right to bodily liberty and transfer to an elephant sanctuary. Happy became the first elephant in the world to be granted a hearing to determine the lawfulness of her captivity. However, the New York Court of Appeals ultimately rejected the argument that Happy was being illegally confined at the zoo and ruled that she is not legally a person under US law.
Tommy, Kiko, Hercules, and Leo
In 2013, the Nonhuman Rights Project filed petitions in three trial courts in the state of New York demanding that common law writs of habeas corpus be issued on behalf of four captive chimpanzees – Tommy, Kiko, Hercules, and Leo. Tommy was a privately owned chimpanzee living in a cage in a shed on a used trailer lot in Gloversville, NY; Kiko was a privately owned chimpanzee living on private property in Niagara Falls, NY; and Hercules and Leo were two chimpanzees owned by the New Iberia Research Center and loaned to the Anatomy Department at Stony Brook University for use in locomotion research.
- List of captive elephants
- Effects of captivity on elephants
- Category:Reports about non-human personhood