habeas corpus for Happy!





For the first time in history, an American judge ruled that even elephants have rights. Happy is a 47-year-old Asian elephant who has lived in solitary confinement in the Bronx Zoo, New York, for twelve years. Happy was one of seven Asian elephant calves that were probably caught in the same flock in Thailand in the early 1970s, shipped to America and sold to circuses and zoos. Happy and Grumpy landed in the Bronx Zoo, where they spent 25 years in an enclosure. Grumpy died in 2002 and Happy stayed alone. A habeas corpus ruling requires a prisoner to be brought to court to determine if this person is being illegally detained.

Now Happy can complain against the zoo. The decision was based on the question of whether Happy is rated as a person or as a thing.

Meanwhile, Happy had become a scientific celebrity. In 2005, she was the first elephant to pass the “Mirror Self-Assessment Test”.
The scientists painted a white cross over their left eye and led she to a large mirror. Happy repeatedly touched the marker, indicating that she recognized herself. Most animals can not do this.

But Happy is alone and this already since 12 years. She lives isolated in a small part of the Bronx zoo. She has been in the zoo since 1977. Previously, she had been an attraction on Florida’s Lion Country Safari.

elefant-Happy jpg

A New York court has now issued the first habeas corpus order in the name of a captive elephant. Happy could be another animal after the Orangutan Sandra, which recognizes the rights of humans.

The Nonhuman Rights Project is pursuing the lawsuit against the Bronx Zoo on behalf of Happy. A habeas corpus ruling requires a prisoner to be brought to court to determine if this person is being illegally detained.

To be successful, the court has to decide if Happy can legally be considered a “person”. If Happy wins, all elephants in New York will not be locked up in zoos.

A judge from the Orleans district has already dealt with the lawsuit and has heard the Nonhuman Rights Project, which filed the lawsuit – Happy against Bronx Zoo.

“Happy lives in a small enclosure, in a 1-hectare zoo. She also lives without her family. She has no family, “said Steven Wise, lawyer for the Non-Human Rights Project.

The Bronx Zoo is owned by the Wildlife Conservation Society, a US nature conservation foundation. In addition to the Bronx Zoo, it includes the Central Park Zoo, the New York Aquarium, the Queens Zoo and the Prospect Park Zoo.

The case of Happy is the second time in US legal history that a habeas corpus is “negotiated” for a non-human animal, and the first time a case has been made for an elephant. Steven Wise, president of the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), told the judge that one habeas corpus was issued for an orangutan (Sandra)  in Buenos Aires and another for a chimpanzee in Mendoza, Argentina.

SandraSandra, Buenos Aires

Whether Happy really comes free, it is further argued, because the judges are of the opinion that the case should be decided in another court. The NhRP is already examining the next steps and trying to decide whether to go to court in another county or in the Bronx. Since this is a complex legal issue, the NhRP needs time to check all options.

Now Happy has the status that she can complain, but it is difficult to find a court that wants to make the verdict.


My comment: Humans have rights, all other species have NO rights.

This allows us to be ad libidum the offenders in injustice and the privileged in grace.
We humans do not know (anymore) what it feels like to be without rights.

I consider the recognition of human rights for Happy as a sign of the moral evolution of the human species.
It is high time to see our rights as human beings, not as a privilege for the victor, but as a necessity for all non-human beings. We solidarize with Happy and wait hopefully!

My best regards, Venus


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