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Great ape personhood is a movement to extend
personhood Personhood is the status of being a person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic by Logical consequence, drawing conclusion ...
and some legal protections to the non-
human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A speci ...

human
members of the
great ape The Hominidae (), whose members are known as great apes or hominids (), are a taxonomic family In , family (from la, familia) is a of people related either by (by recognized birth) or (by marriage or other relationship). The purpose ...
family:
chimpanzee The chimpanzee (''Pan troglodytes''), also known simply as chimp, is a species of Hominidae, great ape native to the forest and savannah of tropical Africa. It has four confirmed subspecies and a fifth proposed subspecies. The chimpanzee and t ...

chimpanzee
s,
bonobo The bonobo (; ''Pan paniscus''), also historically called the pygmy chimpanzee and less often, the dwarf or gracile chimpanzee, is an Endangered Species, endangered great ape and one of the two species making up the genus ''Pan (genus), Pan''; th ...

bonobo
s,
gorilla Gorillas are herbivorous, predominantly ground-dwelling great apes that inhabit the tropical forests of equatorial Africa. The genus ''Gorilla'' is divided into two species: the eastern gorilla and the western gorilla, and either four or f ...

gorilla
s, and
orangutan Orangutans are great apes The Hominidae (), whose members are known as great apes or hominids (), are a taxonomic family In human society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relati ...

orangutan
s. Advocates include
primatologists Primatology is the scientific study of primates. It is a diverse Academic discipline, discipline at the boundary between mammalogy and anthropology, and researchers can be found in academic departments of anatomy, anthropology, biology, medicin ...
Jane Goodall Dame Jane Morris Goodall (; born Valerie Jane Morris-Goodall on 3 April 1934), formerly Baroness Jane van Lawick-Goodall, is an English primatologist and anthropologistAn anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology. Ant ...

Jane Goodall
and
Dawn Prince-Hughes Dawn Prince-Hughes (born January 31, 1964 in Carbondale, Illinois Carbondale is a city in Jackson CountyJackson County is the name of 24 counties in the United States: *Jackson County, Alabama *Jackson County, Arkansas *Jackson County, Color ...
, evolutionary biologist
Richard Dawkins Richard Dawkins (born 26 March 1941) is a British evolutionary biology, evolutionary biologist and author. He is an Oxford fellow, emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford and was Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science, Prof ...

Richard Dawkins
, philosophers
Paola Cavalieri Paola Cavalieri (born 1950) is an Italian philosopher, most known for her work arguing for extension of human rights to the other great apes and more broadly, "to mammals and birds, and probably vertebrates in general". In addition to her books, s ...
and
Peter Singer Peter Albert David Singer (born 6 July 1946) is an Australian moral philosopher Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong action (philosophy) ...

Peter Singer
, and legal scholar Steven Wise.Goodall, Jane in Paola Cavalieri & Peter Singer (eds.) ''The Great Ape Project: Equality Beyond Humanity''. St Martin's Griffin, 1994.


Status

On February 28, 2007, the parliament of the
Balearic Islands The Balearic Islands ( , also , ; ca, Illes Balears ; es, Islas Baleares ) are an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of islands, or sometimes a sea contai ...

Balearic Islands
, an autonomous community of Spain, passed the world's first legislation that would effectively grant legal
personhood Personhood is the status of being a person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic by Logical consequence, drawing conclusion ...
rights to all great apes. The act sent ripples across Spain, producing public support for the rights of great apes. On June 25, 2008 a parliamentary committee set forth resolutions urging Spain to grant the primates the right to life and liberty. If approved "it will ban harmful experiments on apes and make keeping them for circuses, television commercials, or filming illegal under Spain's penal code." These precedents followed years of European legal efforts. In 1992,
Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Federalism, Federal semi-direct democracy under an assembly-independent Directorial system, directorial republic , leader_title1 = Fe ...

Switzerland
amended its
constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political ...
to recognize animals as ''beings'' and not ''things''. However, in 1999 the Swiss constitution was completely rewritten. A decade later,
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inh ...

Germany
guaranteed rights to animals in a 2002 constitutional amendment, the first
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
member to do so.
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ''Aotearoa'' (; commonly pronounced by English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon Engl ...

New Zealand
created specific legal protections for five great ape species in 1999. The use of
gorilla Gorillas are herbivorous, predominantly ground-dwelling great apes that inhabit the tropical forests of equatorial Africa. The genus ''Gorilla'' is divided into two species: the eastern gorilla and the western gorilla, and either four or f ...

gorilla
s,
chimpanzee The chimpanzee (''Pan troglodytes''), also known simply as chimp, is a species of Hominidae, great ape native to the forest and savannah of tropical Africa. It has four confirmed subspecies and a fifth proposed subspecies. The chimpanzee and t ...

chimpanzee
s, bonobos or
orangutan Orangutans are great apes The Hominidae (), whose members are known as great apes or hominids (), are a taxonomic family In human society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relati ...

orangutan
s in research, testing or teaching is limited to activities intended to benefit these animals or its species. A New Zealand animal protection group later argued the restrictions conferred weak
legal rights Natural rights and legal rights are two types of rights. * Natural rights are those that are not dependent on the laws or customs of any particular culture or government, and so are ''universal'', ''fundamental Fundamental may refer to: * Foun ...
. Several European countries (including Austria, the Netherlands and Sweden) have completely banned the use of great apes in animal testing. Austria was the first country to ban experimentation on lesser apes. Under
EU Directive 2010/63/EU Directive 2010/63/EU is the European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its members have a combined area of and an e ...
, the entire
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
banned great ape experimentation in 2013.
Argentina Argentina (), officially the Argentine Republic ( es, link=no, República Argentina), is a country located mostly in the southern half of South America South America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasse ...

Argentina
granted a captive orangutan basic rights in late 2014. On April 20, 2015, Justice Barbara Jaffe of New York State Supreme Court ordered a writ of
habeas corpus (; from Medieval Latin Medieval Latin was the form of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin '' ...
to two captive chimpanzees but the next day the ruling was amended to strike the words "writ of habeas corpus".


Advocacy

Well-known advocates include primatologist
Jane Goodall Dame Jane Morris Goodall (; born Valerie Jane Morris-Goodall on 3 April 1934), formerly Baroness Jane van Lawick-Goodall, is an English primatologist and anthropologistAn anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology. Ant ...

Jane Goodall
, who was appointed a goodwill ambassador for the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization aiming to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harm ...

United Nations
to fight the
bushmeat Bushmeat is meat from wildlife species that are hunted for human consumption. Bushmeat represents a primary source of animal protein and a cash-earning commodity for inhabitants of humid tropical forest regions in Africa, Latin America and Asia. ...
trade and end
ape Apes (Hominoidea ) are a branch A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientis ...

ape
extinction;
Richard Dawkins Richard Dawkins (born 26 March 1941) is a British evolutionary biology, evolutionary biologist and author. He is an Oxford fellow, emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford and was Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science, Prof ...

Richard Dawkins
, former Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at
Oxford University Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town and only city of Oxfordshire. In 2017, its population was estimated at 152,450. It is northwest of London, southeast of Birmingham, and northeast of Bristol. The city is home to the Unive ...

Oxford University
;
Peter Singer Peter Albert David Singer (born 6 July 1946) is an Australian moral philosopher Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong action (philosophy) ...

Peter Singer
, professor of philosophy at
Princeton University Princeton University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly tw ...

Princeton University
; and attorney and former Harvard professor Steven Wise, founder and president of the
Nonhuman Rights Project The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) is an American animal rights nonprofit organization seeking to change the legal status of at least some nonhuman, nonhuman animals from that of property to that of Personhood, persons, with a goal of securing ri ...
(NhRP), whose aim is to use U.S. common law on a state-by-state basis to achieve recognition of legal personhood for great apes and other self-aware, autonomous non-human animals. All advocate for great ape personhood. In December 2013, the NhRP filed three lawsuits on behalf of four chimpanzees being held in captivity in New York State, arguing that they should be recognized as legal persons with the fundamental right to bodily liberty (i.e. not to be held in captivity) and that they are entitled to common law writs of
habeas corpus (; from Medieval Latin Medieval Latin was the form of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin '' ...
and should be immediately freed and moved to sanctuaries. All three petitions for writs of habeas corpus were denied, allowing for the right to appeal. The NhRP is in the process of appealing all three decisions. Goodall's
longitudinal studies A longitudinal study (or longitudinal survey, or panel study) is a research design that involves repeated observations of the same variables (e.g., people) over short or long periods of time (i.e., uses longitudinal data). It is often a type of obs ...
revealed the social and family life of chimps to be similar to those of human beings. She herself calls them individuals, and says they relate to her as an individual member of the clan. Laboratory studies of ape language ability began to reveal other
human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A speci ...

human
traits, as did
genetics Genetics is a branch of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, ...

genetics
, and eventually three of the great apes were reclassified as
hominids The Hominidae (), whose members are known as great apes or hominids (), are a taxonomic Family (biology), family of primates that includes eight Neontology#Extant taxa versus extinct taxa, extant species in four Genus, genera: ''Orangutan, Pon ...
. Other studies, such as one done by Beran & Evans, indicate other qualities that humans share with non-human primates, namely the ability to self-control. In order for chimpanzees to control their impulsivity, they use self-distraction techniques similar to those that are used by children. Great apes also exhibited ability to plan as well as project "oneself into the future", known as the process of
mental time travel In psychology Psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in ...
. Such complicated tasks require self-awareness, which great apes appear to possess: "the capacity that contribute to the ability to delay gratification, since a self-aware individual may be able to imagine future states of the self". This, alongside the increasing risk of great ape extinction, had led the animal rights movement to put pressure on nations to recognize apes as having limited
rights Rights are legal Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is desc ...
and being legal "persons." In response, the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
introduced a ban on research using great apes, although testing on other primates has not been limited. Writer and lecturer Thomas Rose argues that granting legal rights to non-humans is nothing new. He points out that in most of the world, "corporations are recognized as legal persons and are granted many of the same rights humans enjoy, the right to sue, to vote and to freedom of speech."
Dawn Prince-Hughes Dawn Prince-Hughes (born January 31, 1964 in Carbondale, Illinois Carbondale is a city in Jackson CountyJackson County is the name of 24 counties in the United States: *Jackson County, Alabama *Jackson County, Arkansas *Jackson County, Color ...
has written that great apes meet the commonly accepted standards for personhood: "self-awareness; comprehension of past, present, and future; the ability to understand complex rules and their consequences on emotional levels; the ability to choose to risk those consequences, a capacity for
empathy Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another's position. Definitions of empathy encompass a broad range of emotional s ...

empathy
, and the ability to ."
Gary Francione Gary Lawrence Francione (born May 1954) is an American academic in the fields of law and philosophy. He is Board of Governors Professor of Law and Katzenbach Scholar of Law and Philosophy at Rutgers University Rutgers University (RU; ), off ...

Gary Francione
questions the concept of granting personhood on the basis of whether the animal is human-like (as some have argued) and believes
sentience Sentience is the capacity to experience feeling Feeling was originally used to describe the physical sensation of touch through either experience or perception. The word is also used to describe other experiences, such as "Emotion, a feeling of ...
should be the sole criteria used to determine if an animal should enjoy basic rights. Several other animals, including mice and rats, should also be granted such rights, he asserts.


Interpretation

Depending on the exact wording of any proposed or adopted declaration, personhood for the Great Apes raises questions concerning protections and obligations under national and international laws including: * Articles 7–29 of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is an international document adopted by the United Nations General Assembly The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA or GA; french: link=no, Assemblée générale, AG) is one of the six p ...
* The
1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons The Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons is a 1954 United Nations multilateral treaty that aims to protect statelessness, stateless individuals. Surrounding events The United Nations Charter and Universal Declaration of Human ...
and
1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness The Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness is a 1961 United Nations multilateral treaty whereby sovereign states agree to reduce the incidence of statelessness. The Convention was originally intended as a Protocol to the Convention Relat ...
regarding nationality and citizenship for persons * Provisions 4 and 5 of the
Declaration of the Rights of the Child The Declaration of the Rights of the Child, sometimes known as the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child, is an international document promoting child rights, drafted by Eglantyne Jebb Eglantyne Jebb (25 August 1876 – 17 December 19 ...


See also

*
Animal testing on non-human primates Experiments involving non-human primates (NHPs) include toxicity Toxicity is the degree to which a chemical substance or a particular mixture of substances can damage an organism. Toxicity can refer to the effect on a whole organism, such a ...
*
Biolinguistics Biolinguistics can be defined as the study of biology and the evolution of language. It is highly interdisciplinary as it is related to various fields such as biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, in ...
*
Emotion in animals Emotion is defined as any mental experience with high intensity and high hedonic content. The existence and nature of emotions in animals are believed to be correlated with those of humans and to have evolved from the same mechanisms. Charles Da ...
*
Great Ape Project The Great Ape Project (GAP), founded in 1993, is an international organization of primatologists, anthropologist An anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology Anthropology is the of ity, concerned with , , , and , ...
* International Primate Day *
International trade in primates The international trade in primates sees 32,000 wild non-human primates (NHPs) trapped and sold on the international market every year. They are sold mostly for use in animal testing, but also for food, for exhibition in zoos and circuses, and fo ...
* List of notable apes *
Primate cognition Primate cognition is the study of the intellectual and behavioral skills of non-human primate A primate ( ) (from Latin , from 'prime, first rank') is a eutherian mammal constituting the Taxonomy (biology), taxonomic order (biology), order ...
*
Speciesism Speciesism () is a term used in philosophy regarding the treatment of individuals of different species. The term has several different definitions within the relevant literature. A common element of most definitions is that speciesism involves t ...

Speciesism
* '' The Mentality of Apes'' * ''
The Mind of an Ape ''The Mind of an Ape'' is a 1983 book by David Premack and his wife Ann James Premack. The authors argue that it is possible to teach language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or ...
'' *
Theory of mind In psychology Psychology is the scientific Science (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area ar ...


References

{{animal rights Animal rights Apes Personhood Primatology
Legal entitiesThis category contains articles related to juristic or natural person In jurisprudence Jurisprudence, or legal theory, is the theoretical study of law. Scholars of jurisprudence seek to explain the nature of law in its most general form and ...