This Lawyer Is Fighting To Give Chimpanzees Legal Rights

Steve Wise wants to establish legal "personhood" for animals to challenge their captivity.

11/06/2016 4:20 AM AEST | Updated 11/06/2016 4:20 AM AEST

Humans have been performing tests on chimpanzees for decades, subjecting them to experiments that involve infectious diseases, brain and organ removal, severe radiation and toxic chemicals. But lawyer Steve Wise has dedicated his life to fighting for the legal rights of chimps and other animals. 

Wise, the president of the Nonhuman Rights Project and the subject of the HBO documentary "Unlocking the Cage," has been working to give captive chimps the writ of habeas corpus to legally challenge their imprisonment. This would establish legal "personhood" for the animals so that they can have "their day in court—a day they so clearly deserve," NhRP's website states.

"When you are a thing, you are essentially the slave of a person. You don't count when you go in front of a court; you're invisible to courts," Wise said. But he thinks he can convince judges "to have a non-human animal seen as a person, if only for the writ of habeas corpus to protect their fundamental rights to bodily liberty."

In the video above, Wise explains his mission and how he's presenting "all kinds of scientific evidence showing how cognitively complex those chimps are."

This video was produced by Alex Kushneir.

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