Friday, May 04, 2007

Jerry was a man

That's the title of a 60-year-old short story by Robert Heinlein. It relates the successful attempt by a shady lawyer to get a genetically modified chimpanzee declared human in court.

Life imitates art:
Activists Want Chimp Declared a 'Person'

May 4 12:24 PM US/Eastern
Associated Press Writer
VIENNA, Austria (AP) - In some ways, Hiasl is like any other Viennese: He indulges a weakness for pastry, likes to paint and enjoys chilling out watching TV.

But he doesn't care for coffee, and he isn't actually a person—at least not yet.

In a case that could set a global legal precedent for granting basic rights to apes, animal rights advocates are seeking to get the 26- year-old male chimpanzee legally declared a "person."

Hiasl's supporters argue he needs that status to become a legal entity that can receive donations and get a guardian to look out for his interests.

"Our main argument is that Hiasl is a person and has basic legal rights," said Eberhart Theuer, a lawyer leading the challenge on behalf of the Association Against Animal Factories, a Vienna animal rights group.

"We mean the right to life, the right to not be tortured, the right to freedom under certain conditions," Theuer said.

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