Toward Hominid and Other Humanoid Rights: Are We Witnessing a Legal Revolution?

On 3 November 2016, an Argentinian judge granted habeas corpus relief to Cecilia, a person held captive in a small cage. Nothing out of the ordinary – except for the fact that Cecilia is not a battered woman or abused girl, but a chimpanzee kept at Mendoza zoo. This 1 % genetic difference turns this into a landmark judgment of potentially revolutionary proportions. For the first time in legal history, a court explicitly declared an animal other than human a legal person who possesses inherent fundamental rights. This judgment marks a radical breach with the deeply entrenched legal tradition of categorizing animals as rightless things (the person’s antithesis), and demonstrates that the previously impenetrable legal wall between humans and animals can be surmounted. The question seems no longer if, but when.

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