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Saturday, July 2, 2022

Happy the Bronx Zoo Elephant is not a ‘person’, court rules

Albany, NY ( Associated Press) – New York’s top court on Tuesday rejected an attempt to free Happy Elephant from the Bronx Zoo, ruling in a closely watched case that she did not meet the definition of a “person.” which is being illegally confined.

The 5-2 decision by the State Court of Appeals confirms an earlier court ruling and means Happy will not be released through habeas corpus proceedings, a way for people to challenge illegal confinement.

The majority decision, written by Chief Justice Janet Defiore, stated that “while no one disputes that elephants are intelligent creatures worthy of due care and compassion,” a writ of habeas corpus seeks to protect human liberty. and does not apply to a nonhuman animal like Happy.

The zoo and its supporters warned that a victory for advocates in the Inhuman Rights Project could open the door to more legal action on behalf of animals, including pets and other species, in zoos.

Bronx Zoo elephant “Happy” strolls inside the zoo’s Asia Habitat in New York.

The majority of the court echoed that point.

“There is a determination that Happy, an elephant, may invoke habeas corpus to challenge his imprisonment at the Bronx Zoo – a prison term both authorized and, by all indications, compliant with state and federal statutory law and regulations – modern would have a huge destabilizing effect on society,” read the majority decision. “It is not the role of this Court to make such a determination.”

The Bronx Zoo argued that Happy is neither illegally imprisoned nor a person, but a well-cared for elephant “the magnificent creature he is revered as.”

Advocates of the Inhuman Rights Project argued that Happy is an autonomous, cognitively complex elephant deserving of a right protected in law for “one person”.

Two judges, Rowan Wilson and Jenny Rivera, disagreed in separate, sharply spoken words, writing that Happy is an animal that doesn’t prevent him from having legal rights. Rivera wrote that Happy is “being kept in an environment that is unnatural to him and which does not allow him to live his life.”

“Her captivity is inherently unjust and inhuman. It is an insult to a civilized society, and every day she remains a captive – a spectacle to humans – we also fall short,” Rivera wrote.

Happy was born in the wild in Asia in the early 1970s, captured and brought to the United States as a 1-year-old. Happy arrived at the Bronx Zoo in 1977 with fellow elephant Grumpy, who was seriously injured in a 2002 collision with two other elephants.

The decision of the Supreme Court of New York cannot be appealed. The Inhuman Rights Project has failed to prevail in similar cases, involving a chimpanzee in upstate New York named Tommy.

World Nation News Desk
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