Monday, 22 December 2014

Animals Rights and Fallacy of the Nonhuman Persons





This dubious and vexatious litigation makes a complete mockery of the whole concept of habeas corpus.  Moreover, it has absolutely nothing to do with animal welfare and everything to do with the political ideology of animal-rights.


It is rather depressing that the media does not seem to know the difference between animal welfare and animal-rights.  The most recent demonstration of this inability to tease these two issues apart appeared in the Green section of the Huffington Post website and relates to a story of an orangutan in Buenos Aires zoo lifted from the Reuters News Agency.     

Acting on legal overtures by the Association of Officials and Lawyers for Animal Rights (AFADA) using a habeas corpus petition, on 21 December 2014 the Argentinean High Court appears to have ruled that this animal is deemed to be a 'nonhuman person'.

This dubious and vexatious litigation makes a complete mockery of the whole concept of habeas corpus.  Moreover, it has absolutely nothing to do with animal welfare and everything to do with the political ideology of animal-rights.

The fact is that this animal was born in captive care. If these animal-rights lobbyists succeed in obtaining this animal what is to become of it? Where is it to go? Will its conditions be better or worse than its current situation at Buenos Aires zoo? These are questions that have been barely addressed or answered in any way. This animal certainly will not be returned to the wild therefore any kind of statement that it will be free is a nonsense.

Moreover, it should be understood that any judgement on its welfare - wherever it might end up - will be relying on years of research in zoos as to its best treatment and conditions. It is ironic that making sound judgements based on the science of animal welfare is well founded but they clearly have not been applied in the situation.

Further, all those criticising zoos and maintaining they are places of just entertainment clearly seemed not to have researched the actual facts. Good zoological collections contribute to education, conservation and research both ex-situ and in situ. These are the real contributors to saving the wild not animal-rights groups who extort money and contributions from the general public and then spend it on cases such as this. Which contribute nothing to the conservation of orangutans or any other endangered species.

What seriously appals me is a number of commentators on
Huffington Post website somehow think this is a good outcome for this animal. The facts are that the only people profiting from this are the animal-rights lobbyists who are cynically manipulating gullible people's anthropomorphic view of wild animals.

The reality is that Great apes (and many other species that are labelled with the beloved weasel word of the animal-rights lobby as 'sentient') do not have rights in the same way as humans. Certainly, we as humans have an obligation not to cause unnecessary cruelty or suffering to other animals but this is a very different concept that is being proposed for this and other animals.

This legal challenge is to do with political ideology of such people as  philosopher Peter Singer. They are not a basis for judging animal welfare - quite the opposite. As stated, we know enough about animal behaviour and welfare to make sound judgements on whether an animals welfare is compromised or not - but this judgement has little or nothing to do with this.


Finally, a question to ask is when does an animal become a 'Nonhuman Person'? Where is this dividing line? It sounds very Orwellian in the tradition of Animal Farm: "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others"

Buenos Aires zoo have 10 days in which to appeal this judgement. Let us hope that this ruling is over turned and thrown out of court, as was the case in United States regarding the chimpanzee Tommy and the actions of The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA) against SeaWorld

Update: As reported by the Reuters News Agency,On Friday 2 January 2015, a second case brought by  Steven Wise (an attorney, animal rights activist and founders of the The Nonhuman Rights Project) was dismissed in Rochester, New York in regards of the release of a chimpanzee called Kiko.


Picture from the 1955 British animated film by Halas and Batchelor based on the book Animal Farm by George Orwell.

Further Reading: 

Charles Darwin: 'Is man an ape or an angel?'
 

Human Rights and Animal Rights

You won't find chimps having this debate  -Richard Ryder debates Kenan Malik


How Humans Ended Up With Freakishly Huge Brains