• 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!

Highlights

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NhRP Re-Files Habeas Corpus Case on Behalf of Kiko in New York

The Nonhuman Rights Project filed a lawsuit on January 7, 2016 in the New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan) in which we again demanded that Kiko the chimpanzee be released from captivity pursuant to a common law …

New York Trial Court Denies Tommy’s Second Bid For Freedom

On December 23, 2015, New York County Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffe declined to issue the order to show cause requested in the Nonhuman Rights Project’s second habeas corpus petition on behalf of Tommy the chimpanzee “to the extent that …

Can “Unlocking the Cage” Be the Next “Blackfish”?

Nearly three years ago, a full-length documentary about the traumatic effects of captivity on an orca named Tilikum premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, the largest independent film festival in the United States.

“For anyone who has ever questioned …

Nonhuman Rights at Sundance

Academy Award winner DA Pennebaker and Academy Award nominee Chris Hegedus of Pennebaker Hegedus Films will premiere their documentary Unlocking the Cage—which chronicles the work of the Nonhuman Rights Project, led by President Steven M. Wise—at the 2016 Sundance …

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NhRP Re-Files Habeas Corpus Case on Behalf of Tommy in New York

The Nonhuman Rights Project filed a new lawsuit on December 2, 2015 in the New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan) in which we again demand that Tommy the chimpanzee be released from captivity pursuant to a common …

Open Letter and Petition Demand Sanctuary for Hercules and Leo

Open Letter to Governor Bobby Jindal, Dr. Sandra Woodley, President of the University of Louisiana System, and the People of Louisiana from Steven M. Wise, President, Nonhuman Rights Project

Please help Hercules and Leo.

Hercules and Leo are nine-year-old chimpanzees …