The Great Ape Legal ProjectPosted on July 19, 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