• The Nonhuman Rights Project

    Why the Nonhuman Rights Project Is Unique

    The Nonhuman Rights Project is unlike any other organization in the world. Why? Because we’re the only group working through the common law to achieve actual LEGAL rights for members of species other than our own. The way our law …

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    Why ‘Animal Rights’ Is a Contradiction in Terms

    Hundreds of organizations say they work for “animal rights.” But the only animal with legal rights is the human animal. No other animal has any rights at all. None.

    How come?

    To have a legal right, one must have the …

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    Are You a Legal ‘Person’ or a Legal ‘Thing’?

    For a very long time, a thick legal wall has separated humans from all the other animals.

    In Western law, every nonhuman animal has always been regarded as a legal “thing.” We buy, sell, eat, hunt, ride, trap, vivisect, and …

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    What Kinds of Rights Are We Seeking for Nonhuman Animals?

    We begin by seeking two kinds of fundamental rights for our nonhuman plaintiffs: bodily liberty and bodily integrity.

    Bodily liberty means not being held in captivity. For a chimpanzee, it means not spending life in a laboratory; for an elephant, …

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    How We Select Our Plaintiffs

    Three criteria determine how we select plaintiffs:

    1. We look at the bedrock qualities courts value when determining whether an individual is a “legal person” who should possess certain fundamental rights.
    2. We examine the relevant judicial decisions and statutes of every
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    How We Go About Filing Our Cases

    By the end of 2013, the Nonhuman Rights Project will have launched the first in a series of lawsuits that demand that American state high courts:

    1. Declare certain nonhuman animal plaintiffs to be common law “persons” who possess the capacity
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The Nonhuman Rights Project is the only civil rights organization in the United States working to achieve actual LEGAL rights for members of species other than our own.
Our mission is to change the legal status of appropriate 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.
Our first cases were filed in 2013 on behalf of captive chimpanzees; we plan to continue to file as many lawsuits as we have funds available. Your support of this work is deeply appreciated!


Featured Volunteer: Jo Frederiks


The Nonhuman Rights Project would like to thank our latest Featured Volunteer, Jo Frederiks of Murwillumbah, Australia!

Jo is a visual artist who has generously contributed numerous sketches of nonhuman animals for use in the NhRP’s social-media infographics. Rich in …

‘Key. Out.’: Steven M. Wise Comments on Interview with Hercules and Leo’s Chief Jailer

I write this sitting in an apartment off Avenue de Claude Bernard in Paris, where I am living for a week. Claude Bernard was a famous nineteenth-century physiologist and notorious vivisector of nonhuman animals whose abuse of them in search …

Transcript of the Hearing re. Hercules and Leo at the Supreme Court

Here is the transcript from Hercules and Leo’s habeas corpus hearing on May 27th in the New York County Supreme Court with Justice Barbara Jaffe presiding. For more on the NhRP’s lawsuit on behalf of Hercules and Leo, visit their …

“The Nonhuman Rights Project Has Arrived”: Steven M. Wise on Recent Shows of Support for the NhRP (and the Opposition)

I have long been concerned that the Nonhuman Rights Project’s messages of liberty, equality, and justice for self-aware, autonomous nonhuman animals who are entitled to fundamental rights was not spreading as broadly or rooting as deeply as the NhRP might …

The Center for Constitutional Rights Submits Amicus Curiae Letter Brief in Support of the Nonhuman Rights Project

Last week, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)—a leading legal advocacy organization on issues of civil liberties and human rights—submitted a Letter Brief of Amicus Curiae in support of the Nonhuman Rights Project’s Motion for Leave to Appeal to New …

Media Coverage: Hercules and Leo’s Court Hearing

On May 27th in New York County Supreme Court in Manhattan, NY, the Nonhuman Rights Project argued that, based on principles of liberty and equality, chimpanzees Hercules and Leo should be granted the right to bodily liberty and released from …