Judge grants legal rights to research chimps, orders hearing on ‘unlawful detention’ by university

Judge grants legal rights to research chimps, orders hearing on ‘unlawful detention’ by university

They may not know it, and they most certainly will not be in attendance, but Hercules and Leo will have their day in court.

A judge in Manhattan has ordered a hearing that will touch upon the continuing debate over whether caged chimpanzees can be considered “legal persons,” in the eyes of the law, and thus sue, with human help, for their freedom.

At issue in this case — one of several percolating through the courts in New York and elsewhere — is the fate of Hercules and Leo, chimpanzees who their legal representatives say are “unlawfully detained” at a university on Long Island.

The order, by Justice Barbara Jaffe of New York State Supreme Court, directed officials at Stony Brook University to show cause for holding the two chimps, at a May 6 hearing.

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