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Elephant 'personhood' case heard in Orleans County, but it may be moved back to the Bronx

Dec 15, 2018

Credit Nonhuman Rights Project

A judge in Orleans County has indicated she will likely rule that a case brought by an animal rights group seeking legal “personhood” for an elephant at the Bronx Zoo should be heard in Bronx County.

The case is about Happy, a 47-year-old Asian elephant who has been a focus of a group called the NonHuman Rights Project. It contends the elephant is an autonomous being who is suffering because she is isolated from other elephants.  The organization wants to see the elephant moved to an animal sanctuary.

The case was heard Friday before New York State Supreme Court Justice Tracey Bannister in Albion.

The Wildlife Conservation Society, which is the entity that operates the Bronx Zoo, accuses the animal rights group of trying to capitalize on the Bronx Zoo name to advance its political agenda.

The NonHuman Rights Project says it “appreciates Justice Bannister’s careful and respectful hearing of our arguments and we look forward to deciding our next steps to secure Happy’s release.”

The animal rights group says it will await the judge’s actual order before deciding what it will do next. The organization says its options include having the case heard in Bronx County; seeking to have the case heard in another county, and/or appealing the decision to an appellate court in Rochester.