Elephant, Man

In The New Yorker, Lawrence Wright looks at a curious legal crusade to redefine personhood. The Elephant in the Courtroom. “Habeas petitions are not often heard in court, which was only one reason that the case before New York Supreme Court Justice Alison Y. Tuitt—Nonhuman Rights Project v. James Breheny, et al.—was extraordinary. The subject of the petition was Happy, an Asian elephant in the Bronx Zoo. American law treats all animals as “things”—the same category as rocks or roller skates. However, if the Justice granted the habeas petition to move Happy from the zoo to a sanctuary, in the eyes of the law she would be a person. She would have rights. Humanity seems to be edging toward a radical new accommodation with the animal kingdom.” (Humans also need to develop a radical new accommodation with other humans.)

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