NEW YORK — Happy, the elephant at the center of a legal battle over animal rights, is not a person.
That’s what a court decided Wednesday after a lawsuit by the Nonhuman Rights Project, which said the animal’s “cramped and lonely” lifestyle in its Bronx Zoo enclosure wasn’t right, and that the animal should be moved to a sanctuary.
“For the law to say that elephants and every single other animal – just because they’re not human – have to remain relegated to the status of property like a thing like a car, is simply wrong,” Kevin Schneider — the organization’s executive director, who is also one of the attorneys on the case — previously told PIX11.
Schneider said the group was citing science in their fight to get the court to recognize Happy as a “person” entitled to legal rights.
“The science shows that elephants are autonomous beings,” he explained. “They have a free will, they are not cabin by instinct — they have an interest in their own lives.”
A zoo official expressed pleasure with the
“We are pleased with the Bronx County Supreme Court’s decision today to dismiss the Nonhuman Rights Project’s petition,” said Jim Breheny, director of the Bronx Zoo and EVP of Zoos & Aquariums at the Wildlife Conservation Society. “The court rejected [the] ill-conceived attempt to have an elephant at the Bronx Zoo, Happy, declared a “person,” entitled to protection under the writ of habeas corpus. In doing so, the court supported the Bronx Zoo’s legal position and we believe this decision is in Happy’s best interests.
“The Bronx Zoo takes excellent care of Happy and will continue to do so, along with all animals here at the zoo. Her well-being is assured by our dedicated staff and all the expertise they bring in providing excellent care for her for more than 40 years.”
Breheny said this is the fifth case the Nonhuman Rights Project has lost seeking legal personhood for animals.
Andrew Ramos contributed.