Things I am passionate about. Injustice, stupidity, intolerance, bigotry and small-mindedness. Oh and there might just be some humor to offset the whole thing.

Is a Chimp a Person?

Posted by morganwrites on October 5, 2007

AP reports from Vienna, Austria.

It seems that now that he’s got a human name – Matthew Hiasl Pan – he’s having trouble getting his day in court. Animal rights activists campaigning to get Pan, a 26 year old chimpanzee, legally declared a person vowed to take their challenge to Austria’s Supreme Court after a lower court threw out their latest appeal.

This is stupider than the attorney who sued the dry cleaners $67 million for loosing his pants.

Onward – A provincial judge in the city of Wiener Neustadt dismissed the case earlier, ruling that the Vienna based Association Against Animal Factories had no legal standing to argue on the chimp’s behalf.

The association, which worries about the shelter caring for the chimp might close, has been pressing to get Pan declared a “person” so a guardian can be appointed to look out for his interests and provide him with a home.

Group president Martin Bulluch insists that Pan is “a being with interests” and accuses the Austrian judicial system of monkeying around.

“It is astounding how all the courts try to evade the question of person-hood of a chimp as much as the can,” Balluch said.

A hearing date for the Supreme Court was not immediately set.

The legal tussle began in February of this year, when the animal shelter where Pan and another chimp, Rosi, have lived for 25 years filed for bankruptcy protection.

Activists want to ensure the apes don’t wind up homeless if the shelter closes. Both were captured as babies in Siera Leone in 1982 and smuggled in a crate to Austria for use in pharmaceutical experiments. Customs officers intercepted the shipment and turned the chimps over to the shelter.

Their upkeep costs about euro 4,800 (US $6,800) a month. Donors have offered to help, but there’s a catch: Under Austrian law, only a person can receive personal gifts.

Organizers could set up a foundation to collect cash for Pan, whose life expectancy in captivity is about 60 years. But they contend that only person-hood will give him the basic rights he needs to ensure he isn’t sold to someone outside Austria, where he’s now protected by strict animal cruelty laws.

Okay, so set up a foundation to collect cash for the animal shelter you idiots. Maybe Brittany Spears will, ah never mind, if she can’t take care of her own children then why would we think she could…

In April of this year, a district court judge rejected a British woman’s petition to be declared Pan’s legal guardian. The court ruled that the chimp was neight mentally impaired nor in danger, the grounds required for an individual to be appointed a guardian.

In dismissing the AAAF’s appeal this week, the provincial court said only a guardian could appeal. That doesn’t apply in this case, the group contends, since Pan hasn’t gained a guardian.

There is legal precedence in Austria for close friends to represent people who have no immediate family, “so he should be represented by his closest friends, as is the case,” said Eberhart Theuer, the groups adviser.

“On these grounds we have appealed this decision to the Supreme Court in Vienna,” he said.

Until this summer, the chimp was known simply as Hiasl. However, in the latest court documents, he was identified with a little more dignity – if hot humanity – as Matthew Hiasl Pan, with the last name derived from “chimpanzee.”

The AAAF points out that it’s not trying to get Pan declared a human, but rather a person, which would give him some kind of legal status. Otherwise, he is legally a thing and with the genetic makeup of chmpanzees and humans so strikingly familiar, it contends, that just can’t be done.

“The question is: Are chimps things without interest, or persons with interests?” Balluch said.

“A large section of the public does see chimps as beings with interests,” he said. “We are looking forward to hear what the high court has to say on this fundamental question.”

“Here we go round in circles” – can’t ya just hear Billy Preston, God rest his soul, on his Hammond B3!?!

All italics are my comments.



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