• 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!


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NhRP Legal Team Meets in New York City to Discuss Elephant Habeas Corpus Case

New York, NY – The Nonhuman Rights Project legal team met for two days in Manhattan on March 3rd and 4th to discuss the upcoming habeas corpus lawsuit the NhRP is planning to file later this year on behalf of …


NhRP President Steven M. Wise to Speak in New Orleans and Baton Rouge on Behalf of Imprisoned Chimpanzees Hercules and Leo

NhRP President Steven M. Wise will tour Louisiana on March 9th and 10th to deliver a series of talks to universities about NhRP clients Hercules and Leo and our fight to have them sent to sanctuary at Save the Chimps.…

Update: Tommy

Photo Credit: Chris Hegedus

Photo Credit: Chris Hegedus

We have just learned that Tommy—one of the four captive chimpanzees on whose behalf we first filed suit in New York State in Dec. 2013—was moved some months ago to a roadside zoo in Michigan.

Our …

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New York Supreme Court Judge Denies Kiko’s Second Habeas Corpus Bid

You may recall that, on July 29, 2015, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffe refused to discharge Hercules and Leo after issuing an Order to Show Cause. While Justice Jaffe agreed with much of the NhRP’s argument, she stated she …

At Sundance, a Triumph for "Unlocking the Cage"

Guest post by Michael Mountain

Two and a half years ago, the movie Blackfish shook the world with its story of how a killer whale in captivity was driven to kill his trainer, Dawn Brancheau, at SeaWorld Orlando. And nothing …

“Unlocking the Cage” Trailer

It’s almost here! Unlocking the Cage, Pennebaker Hegedus Films’ documentary about the Nonhuman Rights Project, will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on Jan. 25th. The trailer for the film is now available and was …