from the Better-the-Chimp-than-Corporations dept.
From the article, paraphrased:
When Steven Wise, a 63-year-old legal scholar in the field of animal law, decided to poke around Circle L Trailer Sales to assess the living conditions of the Reindeer living on the company grounds, he was horrified to discover that a former circus chimpanzee named Tommy was forced to live in inhumane conditions:
A rancid milk-musk odor wafted forth and with it the sight of an adult chimpanzee, crouched inside a small steel-mesh cell. Some plastic toys and bits of soiled bedding were strewn behind him. The only visible light emanated from a small portable TV on a stand outside his bars, tuned to what appeared to be a nature show.
Being sufficiently moved by witnessing that heinous crime, Wise and a few cohorts strolled into the Fulton County Courthouse wielding a legal document the likes of which had never been seen in any of the world's courts, a legal package including a detailed account of the "petitioner's" cruel and unusual solitary confinement along with nine affidavits gathered from leading primatologists, underscoring the physical and psychological damages such living conditions endured by a being with such cognitive capability. Tommy would not, however, have anticipated that he was about to make legal history as the first nonhuman primate to ever sue a human captor in an attempt to gain his own freedom.
Granting rights associated with personhood to non-persons has been discussed extensively before, but would be giving personhood to animals be a dangerous slippery-slope? Would be the mark of a more humane and mature society?
Mauritius, an island nation that is the world's second largest exporter of long-tailed macaques, has moved to allow scientific experimentation on the nonhuman primates locally:
The persistent fight by animal welfare activists to end nonhuman primate research has found its way to Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean two-thirds the size of Rhode Island. In the 1700s, Dutch and Portuguese seafarers introduced the long-tailed macaque to the island, where the animals thrived and, in recent decades, formed the basis of an export industry supplying biomedical labs in the developed world. Now, Mauritius has decided to get into the business of nonhuman primate experimentation itself even as such work is becoming increasingly constrained in North America and Europe. Last month the move touched off a heated debate in Mauritius's National Assembly about whether the government could adequately protect the macaques used in research and whether the new industry might endanger a far bigger lifeline for the island—tourism.
The debate is reverberating overseas. Activists, led by London-based Cruelty Free International, see the influence of Mauritius's five monkey breeding companies behind the government's February step allowing licenses to be issued for local research on island-bred macaques. (The new regulations also allow rabbit and rodent studies.) They contend that the companies are alarmed by a successful, high-pressure campaign to discourage commercial airlines from flying nonhuman primates from source countries such as Mauritius to research centers—and are trying to hedge their bets. The London group also argues that the new regulations, which amend the country's Animal Welfare Act, are invalid because they don't further the purpose of the original legislation.