Saving Mr Chimp 拯救大猩猩先生

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Vocabulary: Judicial case 詞匯:庭審案例

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Image caption Does friendship mean anything to him (or it)?

Should animals be entitled to the same rights as people? The question is not so outlandish. A judge in the US once suggested that chimpanzees had the right to habeas corpus. Judge Barbara Jaffe was ruling on the case of Leo and Hercules. These two primates have their own lawyers arguing that they should be moved from a university lab to an animal sanctuary. She did change her mind after a while.

Animals have always intrigued us. Some people find them very intelligent and capable of friendship, jealousy and longing. That's enough to give them rights, isn't it? Not for people like Professor Carl Cohen of the University of Michigan. He says that rights are a concept special to the human moral code. And animals don't know anything about right and wrong. The academic points out: "Animals do not commit crimes; animals are not attacked for their moral views."

In any case, humans have become more sensitive to animal suffering throughout the years. In 1999, New Zealand granted basic rights to five great ape species. Their use in research, testing or teaching was banned in a move seen as the greatest legal success in animal rights history.

In 2002, in an unprecedented move in the European Union, Germany granted some rights to animals in its constitution.

The ambiguous relationship between people and animals can be perceived in language. In English the pronoun used for an animal is 'it'. But many people refer to their pets as 'he' or 'she'. It makes them more of an equal to us.

What do you think? Should animals have rights similar to humans?