Seeing A Chimpanzee React Much Like I Would Helps Me See Chimps Deserve Rights. Like I Do.

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I never think too much about animal rights, and I don't even own a pet, but as soon as I heard the case Steven Wise makes and saw the video below, it all made perfect sense.

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We're saying non-human animals are going to be persons, not people, but persons. And they're going to be right bearers. In law, the fundamental distinction is between being a thing and being a person. When she's a thing, she's the same as a palm tree out there. But when she's a person, she's the same as my son. That's it. That is the one that someone gave me in 1979. That was the first time that I opened this book up. I said, holy smokes. I had no idea that we were treating animals this way.

I began in the area in 1981, when people laughed at me and they barked when I went into a courtroom. And people thought what I was doing was exceedingly odd, and that has changed.

In the United States alone, for every beat of my heart 160 animals are killed. So, I can work for the next 40 or 50 years, and I can save the lives of one heartbeat worth of animals. I didn't want to do that, and now we've been laying the groundwork for the first lawsuits that are going to truly and seriously take on the idea of whether a non-human animal has to be a legal thing. Or whether not it's possible to be a legal person. Without personhood you're invisible to the civil law, so how to you get the attention of the judge? How do you say, hey I shouldn't be a thing, I should be a legal person.

We'll be arguing that our non-human animal plaintive, whoever he or she might be, is entitled to personhood and then certain kinds of fundamental rights. Because as a matter of liberty they have what it takes for personhood and as a matter of equality, because they're similar to humans who already have this king of personhood in a relevant way.

The animals that we're looking at most closely are the different species of great apes, the species of elephants, and of cetaceans. So, I'm looking to speak to the world experts in those areas. Especially the cognition, those are the people that I try to track down.

I know you want to see him. I know you want to see him. When he's ready, we only go to people when they're ready. He would like to learn a click language. If we could learn a click language, we could probably instill it in Teko.

So we may be coming to you to see if you might help us in filing an affidavit. Kind of talking about your work, especially if we have an ape.

Yes.

Talking about the cognitive abilities that they might have, that would then help us persuade courts.

You can see that Kongee [SP] is already asking for you to talk to him. You want me to come in and see you? Yeah, he wants me to come in and see him right now.

Question. Visitors. Have. Ball.

Do you have a ball? Kongee [SP] wants to know if you have a ball.

Is this the ball or is it a bigger ball?

Kongee come say big, if you want a big ball.

I don't know, I don't know where the big ball is.

In Japan, there was a chimpanzee colony and then the place built a lab that jutted into the place that the chimpanzees were outside. And then they had computer terminals inside and outside. That's where they have the experiments about the memory. They flash something into the screen for a quarter second. They'll flash a series of numbers and then they cover up the numbers in a tenth of a second. And then the chimpanzees can then recall what the numbers were and press them in the right order. I did that; I was not as good as the chimpanzees. Yes, I tried it that was fun.

I think we decided on New York, we should begin going ahead with the chimpanzees.

Both acquired from the circus, one is male one is female. And on a scale from A+ to F, they give it an F.

No!

Yes.

This is the Better Business Bureau.

My guess is they're a scuzzy...

Wow.

...place that has other kinds of animals, probably pathetic animals, in pathetic cages.

They have a petting zoo.

We know what we're looking at.

OK, so we know what we are up against.

He said that the other chimpanzee died about three days ago, and that she was 55, and that they only live until 60. I think he's been there for seven years in that place, with the other chimpanzee for seven years. Now for three days, he's all by himself. I'm sure he must be grieving and mourning, the way that chimpanzees do.

That chimpanzee is depressed. Well with any luck, its almost May, seven or eight months we have a shot at getting him out of there.

I believe that I am riding a tide of history, and also partly pushing it. And it's going to happen, but it's not going to be a straight line that's for sure. It's time to begin.

There may be small errors in this transcript.

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