Grant Legal Personhood to Chimpanzees


Target: Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo

Goal: Grant chimpanzees some of the same rights that we afford to humans

A New York appeals court rejected granting legal personhood to chimpanzees and said that they have no human rights. This would have freed a chimpanzee named Tommy from captivity. The Nonhuman Rights Group, the animal rights group that argued for Tommy, now plans on asking New York’s highest court to hear the case.

Tommy is a 26-year-old chimpanzee being kept alone in a cage by his owner in Gloversville, New York. He is being denied freedom even though his attributes, mannerisms, emotions, and intelligence are similar to those of humans. The five-judge panel in Albany, New York even acknowledged this, but said that although Tommy is an autonomous creature, he could not bear any legal duties and therefore could not be responsible for his actions in a legal manner.

Despite the compelling argument from the Nonhuman Rights Group to free Tommy, the chimpanzee will remain in his personal prison. The attempt to grant legal personhood to a chimpanzee may be the first case of its kind, but it is not unusual. The United States has identified corporations as “people,” so why can we not grant legal personhood to a sentient animal?

Chimpanzees are intelligent animals and should not be held captive by owners. Please sign the petition below to protest the decision not to grant Tommy and other chimps legal personhood.


Dear Governor Cuomo,

Recently, the Albany court rejected an attempt to extend legal personhood to a chimpanzee being kept in a cage all alone in New York. This decision was made despite the five-panel court acknowledging that chimpanzees display cognitive functions much like humans do. Keeping them captive is cruel and they should be given legal personhood.

While this case may seem unusual to some since it is the first of its kind, it is not out of the realm of possibility. The Supreme Court has granted corporations rights as people in certain aspects, so is it not possible to do the same for an actual living and breathing creature?

I am calling on you to make a stand on this decision and help chimpanzees obtain legal personhood so that they do not have to be held prisoner by their owners. Intelligent animals such as chimpanzees do not deserve to live this way.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: public domain via Wikipedia

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