Happy, the Asian elephant that has called the Bronx Zoo home for over 40 years, will remain there for the foreseeable future after New York’s highest court recently ruled that she is not a person in a legal sense, and therefore not entitled to the fundamental human right of liberty. (Apparently, neither are many actual humans who casually strolled through the Capitol Building, a.k.a. “The People’s House,” on January 6th, 2021.)
By a 5-2 margin, the Court of Appeals rejected the Nonhuman Rights Project’s argument that Happy was being illegally detained at the zoo and should be transferred to a more natural environment.
The case hinged on whether the cornerstone legal principle of “habeas corpus” — which people assert to protect their bodily liberty and contest illegal confinement — should be extended to allegedly autonomous, cognitively complex animals such as elephants.
Janet DiFiore, the chief judge, correctly wrote in her opinion: “While no one disputes the impressive capabilities of elephants, we reject petitioner’s arguments that it is entitled to seek the remedy of habeas corpus on Happy’s behalf. Habeas corpus is a procedural vehicle intended to secure the liberty rights of human beings who are unlawfully restrained, not nonhuman animals.”
Judge Rowan D. Wilson dissented, saying that the court had a duty “to recognize Happy’s right to petition for her liberty not just because she is a wild animal who is not meant to be caged and displayed, but because the rights we confer on others define who we are as a society.”
It is no coincidence that, as certain groups of humans have fewer and fewer rights in the eyes of so-called “progressive” governments, there is an ever-increasing call for “non-humans” to be afforded “rights.”
The Nonhuman Rights Project, an animal advocacy organization founded in 2007, has long been engaged in a struggle to free captive animals. Happy’s case is the first to determine if an animal should be granted “personhood” status to reach so high a court. The split decision makes it nearly certain that the debate will continue well into the future.
So, let’s free Happy. And free Willy. And free dogs, cats, pigs, cattle, and gerbils. Let’s give squirrels the vote and make it a crime to kill a cockroach. None of these things would likely even be controversial to today’s progressives, many of whom are so insane they believe humans (other than themselves, of course) are a virus, a scourge on the planet.
Given the fact that one can now “identify” as just about anything one wishes, I am somewhat surprised the Court ruled as it did. I mean, California effectively ruled that bees can be fish. What if Happy identifies as a human?
My guess is the New York Court of Appeals only declined to grant Happy her freedom because she is an elephant—symbol of the Republican Party.