Does Bonzo Have Human Rights?


From The Guardian via Slashdot comes a story about whether to grant chimps human rights. Snippets:

He recognises himself in the mirror, plays hide-and-seek and breaks into fits of giggles when tickled. He is also our closest evolutionary cousin.

A group of world leading primatologists argue that this is proof enough that Hiasl, a 26-year-old chimpanzee, deserves to be treated like a human. In a test case in Austria, campaigners are seeking to ditch the 'species barrier' and have taken Hiasl's case to court. If Hiasl is granted human status—and the rights that go with it—it will signal a victory for other primate species and unleash a wave of similar cases….

Primatologists and experts—from the world's most famous primate campaigner, Jane Goodall, to Professor Volker Sommer, a renowned wild chimp expert at University College London—will give evidence in the case, which is due to come to court in Vienna within the next few months.

One of their central arguments will be that a chimpanzee's DNA is 96-98.4 per cent similar to that of humans—closer than the relationship between donkeys and horses. They will cite recent findings that wild apes hunt with home-made spears and can fight battles and make peace. In New Zealand, apes—gorillas, orang utans, chimpanzees and bonobos—were granted special rights as 'non-human hominids' in 1999 to grant protection from maltreatment, slavery, torture, death and extinction.

Sommer, an evolutionary anthropologist, said: 'It's untenable to talk of dividing humans and humanoid apes because there are no clear-cut criteria—neither biological, nor mental, nor social.'

More here.

Reason defended experimenting on animals here.