In a historic moment for animal rights, two chimpanzees, Hercules and Leo, were effectively recognized by a New York court as legal persons Monday.
Hercules and Leo, who are currently used for biomedical experiments at Stony Brook University on Long Island, were granted a hearing on their habeas corpus petition by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffe.
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According to Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), which filed the habeas corpus petition in March in an effort to move the primates to a sanctuary in Florida, Jaffe’s ruling is a first for animal rights.
Stony Brook University must now provide the court with a legally sufficient reason for keeping Leo and Hercules in captivity or the chimps will be set free. The court has scheduled the hearing for May 6, according to NhRP.
The hopes and dreams of millions of chimps were dashed in an instant Tuesday when a judge affirmed that an animal-rights group had gone too far by saying she’d granted them “human rights.”
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffe acknowledged that she inadvertently got turned into a monkey’s uncle by signing court papers, submitted by the animal-rights activists, that inadvertently bestowed human status on two chimpanzees being used for biomedical research at Stony Brook University on Long Island.
Proving the movie maxim uttered by Charlton Heston that “some apes, it seems, are more equal than others,” Jaffe on Monday signed a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of the primates, named Hercules and Leo.
The judicial command, Latin for “have the body,” is used to determine the legality of a prisoner’s confinement — raising the specter of Cornelius and Zira’s appearance before a Presidential Commission in 1971’s “Escape from the Planet of the Apes.”
But Jaffe got madder than a gorilla handling an American Tourister suitcase when the Nonhuman Rights Project — which wants Hercules and Leo sent to a South Florida sanctuary — claimed that she had “implicitly determined that Hercules and Leo are ‘persons.’”
Jaffe issued an amended order Tuesday that crossed out the words “Writ of Habeas Corpus.”
Well, at least we know the matter is in the hands of a careful jurist.