A US animal rights group is calling on a New York court to recognise a chimpanzee as a legal person, in what is believed to be a legal first.
The Nonhuman Rights Project wants a chimp named Tommy to be granted “legal personhood” and thus entitled to the “fundamental right of bodily liberty”.
The group is planning to file the same lawsuit on behalf of three other chimps across New York this week.
It wants the four to be released from their captivity.
They should be taken to a sanctuary that is a member of the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance, the group argues.
‘Tons of toys’
The group filed the lawsuit on behalf of Tommy on Monday.
“We are claiming that chimpanzees are autonomous – that is, being able to self-determine, be self-aware, and be able to choose how to live their own lives,” its founder Steven Wise told the Associated Press news agency.
Scientists’ evidence is included in the lawsuits.
“Once we prove that chimpanzees are autonomous, that should be sufficient for them to gain legal personhood and at least have their fundamental interests protected by human rights,” Mr Wise said.
Tommy, the group said, “is being held captive in a shed at a used-trailer lot” in Gloversville, New York.
Read more: BBC