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#NotProperty: Happy the elephant to stay at Bronx Zoo; appellate judges uphold lower court ruling

Elephants are among the most intelligent and empathetic creatures, scientific research shows. They feel joy, embarrassment, and even grieve when a relative dies.

MOLLY CRANE-NEWMAN: Happy the Elephant can’t be sprung from the Bronx Zoo like a captive prisoner appellate judges agreed Thursday… Since filing a lawsuit in 2018, activists — including world-renowned primatologist Jane Goodall — have fought to free Happy from her one-acre exhibit at Bronx Zoo to a 2,300-acre elephant sanctuary… But a panel of five appeals court judges upheld a lower court February ruling that the 49-year-old elephant cannot be regarded in the law’s eyes as an unlawfully imprisoned human being…

Designating anything other than humans as “persons … would lead to a labyrinth of questions that common-law processes are ill-equipped to answer,” the panel wrote… The judges said the decision “of whether and how to integrate other species into legal constructs designed for humans is a matter better suited to the legislative process'”…

A spokesperson for The Nonhuman Rights Project [NhRP], the group that brought the 2018 lawsuit, lamented Thursday’s ruling as wrong and unjust — but said they’ll keep fighting. “We’ll now ask New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, to hear our arguments,” spokeswoman Stacey Doss said in a statement…

Happy the Elephant was captured in Thailand in the 1970s and brought to the United States where she’s lived in the Bronx for more than 43 years… Happy was the first elephant in recorded history to demonstrate sophisticated self-awareness by passing a mirror self-recognition test in 2005… Elephants are among the animal kingdom’s most empathetic creatures, scientific research shows. They feel joy, embarrassment, and even grieve when a relative dies. SOURCE…

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