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“Should Chimps Have Human Rights?”

An Austrian court may very well decide so. A group of primatologists are seeking to ditch the species barrier, arguing that Hiasl, a 26-year-old chimpanzee, deserves to be treated like a human. When Hiasl’s animal sanctuary went bankrupt, an Austrian businessman donated money toward his upkeep. But Hiasl won’t be able to keep that money unless he has a legal guardian to manage it for him. Since only humans have a right to legal guardians, his campaigners say that it’s “necessary for Hiasl’s survival to prove that he is one of us.”

Speciesists are already getting hot under the collar about the possibility of non-human animals being free from humans’ torture and exploitation. After a Brazilian chimp was recognized as a legal subject in late 2005, author Wesley Smith wrote, “Imagine the harm to scientific advancement if a lab rat could sue for assault and battery because it was the subject of a medical experiment. Consider the consequences if a horse or a cow could sue to be freed from involuntary servitude.” Oh, the horror!

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