The Great Ape Legal ProjectJuly 19th, 2002
is working to establish legal rights for nonhuman great apes, including
the rights to life, liberty and protection from torture.
The Great Ape Legal Project, a joint project of the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Great Ape Project International, aims to establish legal rights for nonhuman great apes, including the rights to life, liberty and protection from torture.
Through this groundbreaking enterprise, ALDF is working to improve the legal status of nonhuman animals, who continue to be viewed by the courts — despite the clearer vision of scientists, philosophers and animal guardians everywhere — as mere property. "Animals have never been made a part of our legal system," explains ALDF President Steve Ann Chambers. "As a result, there is no legal recourse when they're exploited and abused."
Research by Roger Fouts, Jane Goodall and other leading primatologists has shown that chimpanzees — whether in the wild or in captivity — possess remarkable cognitive and social skills, with unique personalities as complex and distinctive as our own. Chimps are our closest biological relatives, in fact, sharing 98.4 percent of their DNA with humans. Ironically, this very closeness has led to the ongoing, unconscionable terror inflicted upon them and other great apes by the biomedical research industry. "We now have sufficient information about the capacities of great apes to make it clear that the moral boundary we draw between us and them is indefensible," declares philosopher Peter Singer, author of the seminal 1975 book Animal Liberation, who co-founded the Great Ape Project in 1993.
Sadly, the law has failed to keep up with science and common sense, and winning legal rights for nonhuman animals is a slow and arduous process. The Great Ape Legal Project is laying the groundwork by raising public awareness, and by bringing strategic court challenges which, if successful, will compel the judicial system to recognize our fellow apes not as "things," but — in the words of Roger Fouts — our "next of kin."
For more information, or to contribute to this historic effort, contact:Great Ape Legal Project
c/o Animal Legal Defense Fund
170 E. Cotati Ave.
Cotati, CA 94931
Great Ape Project International
P.O. Box 19492
Portland, OR 97280-0492