US & Canada

US chimpanzee Tommy 'has no human rights' - court

Chimpanzee Tommy. Photo: October 2014
Image caption Chimpanzee Tommy is believed to be 40 years old

A chimpanzee is not entitled to the same rights as people and does not have to be freed from captivity by its owner, a US court has ruled.

The appeals court in New York state said caged chimpanzee Tommy could not be recognised as a "legal person" as it "cannot bear any legal duties".

The Nonhuman Rights Project had argued that chimps who had such similar characteristics to the humans deserved basic rights, including freedom.

The rights group said it would appeal.

Owner pleased

In its ruling, the judges wrote: "So far as legal theory is concerned, a person is any being whom the law regards as capable of rights and duties.

"Needless to say, unlike human beings, chimpanzees cannot bear any legal duties, submit to societal responsibilities or be held legally accountable for their actions.''

The court added that there was no precedent for treating animals as persons and no legal basis.

In October, the Nonhuman Rights Project had argued that chimpanzees should be recognised as "legal persons" and therefore be given the right to liberty.

The group said on Thursday it would appeal against the court verdict in New York's highest court.

Tommy's owner, Patrick Lavery, said he was pleased with the outcome, according to the Associated Press.

Tommy - who is believed to be about 40 years old - is a former entertainment chimp. He was given to Mr Lavery about 10 years ago.

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