Animal Rights Group Fighting to Give Human Rights to Chimpanzees

February 25, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. contend /kənˈtɛnd/ (v.) – to struggle or fight against something or someone
Example: The mother contended with the teacher after her son got failing marks.

2. knee-deep /ˈniˈdip/ (adj.) – being deeply involved in something
Example: The company was knee-deep in debt after losing to several lawsuits.

3. captive /ˈkæp tɪv/ (adj.) – being held prisoner
Example: The research center has captive rabbits for their study.

4. accountability /əˌkaʊn təˈbɪl ɪ ti/ (n.) – the act of being aware and being responsible for something that one does
Example: The company laptop is under his accountability; therefore, he must be careful with it.

5. lobby /ˈlɒb i/ (v.) – to seek support from a politician or a governing authority on an issue
Example: The students are lobbying for a decrease in tuition fees.


Read the text below.
An animal rights group contends with New York State law in an effort to grant human rights to chimpanzees.

Since 2013, the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) has been knee-deep in legal battles to fight for the liberation of captive chimpanzees. The group petitioned chimpanzees to be recognized as legal persons by law. This would give the chimpanzees basic human rights—including the right to be protected from illegal imprisonment.

Chimpanzees have the intellectual and emotional capacity to be given this right, the NhRP stated. The group cited several scientific studies and authorities to support their cases. They emphasized that chimpanzees are proven to share complex abilities in communication, memory, logic, and creativity with humans.

Three separate cases were filed in New York State courts. All courts rejected the petitions on the basis that chimpanzees lacked social awareness and responsibility. According to one judge, part of the obligations of legal personhood is the capability to understand and follow legal contracts. Furthermore, legal persons should be able to bear the obligation and accountability for their actions if they break the law. All three courts decided that none of the chimpanzees could adhere to these obligations.

However, one judge acknowledged the value of the group’s aims. He advised that the group should instead lobby for new laws that would establish better protection for intelligent animals.

The NhRP represented four chimpanzees that are believed to be living in cruel conditions. Two chimpanzees are allegedly kept by their owners against their will, while two other chimpanzees are being kept in a research center that is notorious for animal abuse. The group’s goal is to transfer the chimpanzees in animal sanctuaries.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think the chimpanzees should have the right of legal personhood? Why or why not?
·         What do you think the NhRP should do to successfully achieve their goal? Please explain your answer.

Discussion B

·         What do you think are the situations wherein animals are treated unfairly? Please explain your answer.
·         How important is it to fight for animal rights? Please explain your answer.

February 25, 2015