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Animal rights group seeks legal 'personhood' for elephant

Nonhuman Rights Project

An Orleans County judge will hear arguments today in a case brought by an animal rights group seeking legal personhood for an elephant at the Bronx Zoo.

"Happy is not only living in this postage stamp-sized, one acre enclosure in the zoo, but she's living without her family. She doesn't have a family," said Steven Wise, an attorney for the Nonhuman Rights Project.

The Wildlife Conservation Society, which owns the Bronx Zoo, did not respond to WXXI's request for comment, but other media outlets have reported that Happy is kept in an exhibit by herself because the zoo's other two elephants have displayed aggressive behavior in the past and attacked and killed Happy's mate, Grumpy, in 2002.

Wise is arguing that Happy is an autonomous being with sensitivity and intelligence who is suffering in isolation and should be moved to an animal sanctuary. The Nonhuman Rights Project has unsuccessfuly sought personhood for a chimpanzee in New York State.

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Click on the LISTEN link above to hear an interview with attorney Steven Wise.

Beth Adams joined WXXI as host of Morning Edition in 2012 after a more than two-decade radio career. She was the longtime host of the WHAM Morning News in Rochester. Her career also took her from radio stations in Elmira, New York, to Miami, Florida.