Animal Law


A friend of mine who is a vegan activist and artist, Michael, reached out to me with a great idea – to create a tweet thread explaining the significance of the Nonhuman Rights Project’s landmark elephant rights case. With the help of him and fellow activist Leah, we worked on the following with the intent for the text to be copied and shared widely. There is also an accompanying position for supporters to sign. Please feel free to copy the text and share on Twitter. My original tweet thread can be found here; feel free to RT! 

Happy is a wild born 47 year old Asian Elephant and the first documented elephant to demonstrate self-awareness in a mirror self- recognition test. She is being illegally detained at @BronxZoo. The Zoo has a long, lurid history of animal and human abuse.

Their very existence is predicated on animals not having rights; more specifically, not having the right to bodily liberty. The @NonhumanRights Project recently petitioned the court for a writ of habeas corpus to immediately release Happy to a sanctuary, and demands that the Court recognize Happy’s common law right to bodily liberty. The Zoo has held Happy, a social creature, captive and alone for the last 12 years. Her prison is a 1.15 acre exhibit. Happy has no companionship and is serving a life sentence of solitary confinement.

The Court needs to intervene to grant Happy her freedom and to “allow her to exercise her autonomy to the greatest degree possible.” In a public statement, the Zoo has accused the @NonhumanRights Project of using Happy to advance a failing cause:

The Nonhuman Rights Project is exploiting the Bronx Zoo elephants to advance their own failing cause in the courts as they put forth ludicrous legal arguments and lies about our elephants, facilities and staff,” -Bronx Zoo Director Jim Breheny.

And yet what’s exploitative is continuing to detain Happy in an unnatural, tiny place that’s inflicting harm on her emotionally, mentally and physically – which is exactly what the Bronx Zoo is doing.

Her unlawful detainment has resulted in a deprivation of her autonomy and bodily liberty. To remedy this, the Court must immediately release Happy to a sanctuary where she can have her social and emotional needs met.

On Dec. 14th, oral arguments were heard in the New York Supreme Court, Orleans County. This is the first time a US court has heard oral arguments on an elephant’s legal personhood.

The outcome of the NhRP case will have profound & everlasting change in the way animals are seen and treated. Animals like Happy are thinking, feeling beings who have the right to bodily liberty.

The ripple effect of the hearing alone is monumental in changing public perception on animal sentience and equality. Nonhuman animals are not things, but persons entitled to their freedom. It’s time the Court acknowledges this.

Sign thepetition if you agree:
#RumbleForRights for Elephants



Tweet thread link:
I would also like to say thank you to Spencer, who gave me some feedback on a draft of the text, and of course to the Nonhuman Rights Project at large. I read through the legal documents, which helped immensely with wording.

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