Oct 2, 2007

Legal Fight for Chimpanzee

The animal rights activists of Austria wants a chimpanzee, named Matthew Hiasi Pan, to have the status of a 'person', so that a guardian can be appointed to take care of him. Donors have offered to help support the chimp but under Austrian law, only a person can receive personal gifts. Also, only personhood will give him the basic rights he needs to ensure he isn't sold to someone outside Austria, where he's now protected by strict animal cruelty laws.

So, the activists want the chimp to be declared as a person! A provincial judge in the city of Wiener Neustadt dismissed the case last week, ruling that the group had no legal standing to argue on the chimp's behalf.

The legal case began in February, when the animal shelter where Pan and another chimpanzee, Rosi, have lived for 25 years filed for bankruptcy protection. Activists want to ensure the apes don't end up homeless if the shelter closes. Both were captured as babies in Sierra Leone in 1982 and smuggled in a crate to Austria for use in pharmaceutical experiments. Customs officers intercepted the shipment and handed the chimps over to the shelter.

Now the campaigners have vowed to take their challenge to Austria's Supreme Court. Group president Martin Balluch insists that Pan is "a being with interests" and said: "It is astounding how all the courts try to evade the question of personhood of a chimp as much as they can." Link


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