New York State Appellate Court Rejects Personhood for Chimpanzees

The New York Supreme Court Appellate Division, First Judicial Department rejected an argument this month by the Nonhuman Rights Project seeking to grant personhood to captive chimpanzees. The Nonhuman Rights Project wanted the court to authorize the release of two chimpanzees owned by private companies.

The petition as to Tommy was brought in December 2015. It is alleged that Tommy, who is owned by respondents Circle L Trailer Sales, Inc. and its officers, is in a cage in a warehouse in Gloversville, New York. The petition as to Kiko was brought in January 2016. Kiko, who is owned by respondents the Primate Sanctuary, Inc. and its officers and directors, is allegedly in a cage in a cement storefront in a crowded residential area in Niagara Falls, New York.

. . .

Petitioner has filed four identical petitions in four separate state courts in four different counties in New York. Each petition was accompanied by virtually the same affidavits, all attesting to the fact that chimpanzees are intelligent, and have the ability to be trained by humans to be obedient to rules, and to fulfill certain duties and responsibilities. Petitioner has failed to present any new information or new ground not previously considered. The “new” expert testimony presented by petitioner continues to support its basic position that chimpanzees exhibit many of the same social, cognitive and linguistic capabilities as humans and therefore should be afforded some of the same fundamental rights as humans.

Any new expert testimony/affidavits cannot be said to be in response to or counter to the reasoning underlying the decision of the Court in People ex rel. Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc. v Lavery (124 AD3d at 148). In declining to extend habeas relief to chimpanzees, the Court in Lavery did not dispute the cognitive or social capabilities of chimpanzees. Nor, did it, as argued by petitioner, take judicial notice that chimpanzees cannot bear duties and responsibilities. Rather, it concluded:

“[U]nlike human beings, chimpanzees cannot bear any legal duties, submit to societal responsibilities or be held legally accountable for their actions. In our view, it is this incapability to bear any legal responsibilities and societal duties that renders it inappropriate to confer upon chimpanzees the legal rights — such as the fundamental right to liberty protected by the writ of habeas corpus — that have been afforded to human beings” (id. at 152).

. . .

The asserted cognitive and linguistic capabilities of chimpanzees do not translate to a chimpanzee’s capacity or ability, like humans, to bear legal duties, or to be held legally accountable for their actions. Petitioner does not suggest that any chimpanzee charged with a crime in New York could be deemed fit to proceed, i.e., to have the “capacity to understand the proceedings against him or to assist in his own defense” (CPL 730.10[1]). While in an amicus brief filed by Professor Laurence H. Tribe of Harvard Law School, it is suggested that it is possible to impose legal duties on nonhuman animals, noting the “long history, mainly from the medieval and early modern periods, of animals being tried for offenses such as attacking human beings and eating crops,” none of the cases cited took place in modern times or in New York. Moreover, as noted in an amicus brief submitted by Professor Richard Cupp, nonhumans lack sufficient responsibility to have any legal standing, which, according to Cupp is why even chimpanzees who have caused death or serious injury to human beings have not been prosecuted.

The Nonhuman Rights Project issued a statement saying that it would appeal this decision to New York’s Court of Appeals.

Steven M. Wise, founder of the NhRP and the attorney who argued on behalf of Tommy and Kiko in Manhattan in March of 2017, said in response to the ruling, “For 2000 years all nonhuman animals have been legal things who lack the capacity for any legal rights. This is not going to change without a struggle. That fight has begun and we remain confident that Tommy’s and Kiko’s fundamental right to bodily liberty will be recognized as a matter of justice so that they too may experience the freedom they so desperately deserve. Public opinion has begun to tilt in our favor since we started filing these lawsuits, likely as a result of them.”

Same Old Gary Yourofsky

Gary Yourofsky’s relationship with People for the Ethical Treatment seems to have ended, but Yourofsky is still traveling around the country giving speeches in favor of vegetarianism with his Animals Deserve Absolute Protection Today and Tomorrow organization. And he’s still actively supporting violence.

According to CUNY student newspaper, The Word, Yourofsky gave presentations to a couple journalism classes there.

Yourofsky, who wore a gray Animal Liberation Front T-shirt, said he wanted to eradicate speciesism . . .

As part of his speech, Yourofsky cites famous and presumably admirable people who are vegetarians. But his list contains at least one oddity (emphasis added),

Yourofsky mentioned famous people like Martin Luther King Jr. III, Minister Louis Farrakhan, and author Alice Walker. All, he said, adopted vegan lifestyles because they view the killing of animals as a form of oppression.

Louis Farrakhan? The man who called Jews, Koreans and Vietnamese immigrants in New York “bloodsuckers”?

Well, at least Yourofsky has found someone as noxious as he to share his vegetarianism with.


Veganistic Deja Vu. William Frances, The Word, January 5, 2006.

Million Man March: Its goal more widely accepted than its leader. CNN, October 17, 1995.

Three Activists Indicted in Wegmans Break-Ins

In early October, a grand jury indicted three animal rights activists in a series of break-ins at Wegmans Egg Farm in Wolcott, New York.

Adam Durand, 25; Melanie Ippolito, 21; and Megan Cosgrove,22, were indicted on several counts each including burglary, criminal mischief, petty larceny and criminal trespass.

The three activists allegedly broke into the egg farm several times in May and August 2004. They videotaped conditions at the facility and later released a short video through their group Compassionate Consumers. The activists also removed 11 hens from the facility.

Although not indicted, Compassionate Consumers activist Jodi Chemes was fired from her job at Deloitte & Touche after publicizing the tape’s release (Wegmans is a client of Deloitte & Touche).

According to the Times of Wayne County,

In the initial arraignment, it is alleged that the Durand and Ippolito used wire cutters to gain access to the manure rooms below the chicken houses. It was also stated that they took a total of 8 hens from the buildings on at least two occasions.

The grand jury indictment has Durand charged with three counts each of Felony Burglary in the 3rd Degree, Misdemeanor Petit Larceny and Criminal Trespass. Ippolito was charged with two counts each and Cosgrove with one count each.

The Times also reported that Compassionate Consumers offered to end its campaign against Wegmans if the egg producer agreed to reduce or drop the charges against the activists (the prosecutor in the case has said he will not reduce or drop the charges without Wegmans’ consent), but apparently the company refused such a deal.


Jury indicts 3 in Wegmans Egg Farm case. Misty Edgecomb, Democrat and Chronicle, October 4, 2005.

Trio plucked by County Grand Jury for WegmanÂ’s Chicken Farm break-in. Times of Wayne County, 2005.

Three Activists Arrested, Fourth Loses Job in Wegmans Case

Three animal rights activists with Compassionate Consumers were recently charged with third-degree burglary, a felony, and a fourth was fired from her job, all stemming from several incidents in which the activists allegedly broke into Wegmans’ New York egg farm in order to videotape conditions at the farm.

Adam Durand, 25; Melanie Ippolito, 21; and Megan Cosgrove were arrested and charged with third-degree bursarial which carries a maximum sentence of up to seven years in jail.

On the tape, Durand admits that he videotaped the group’s break-ins at the farm while Ippolito and Cosgrove appear on camera describing how they removed animals from the facility.

Durand told the Finger Lake Times that the trio knew a burglary charge was a possibility, but that it was worth the risk. The newspaper quoted Durand as saying,

We plan on showing up to court and, of course, we’re going to continue to promote the film and raise awareness.

The activists were, however, apparently surprised at the charges they faced. According to the Democrat & Chroncile, the three apparently thought they would only face trespassing charges which carries just a $75 fine. Wegmans, however, has apparently pressed prosecutors to bring the burgarly charges rather than settling for just trespassing charges.

The video the three taped was publicized in July by Compassionate Consumers spokeswoman Jodi Chemes. Chemes was subsequently fired by accounting firm Deloitte & Touche.

Chemes told The Democrat & Chronicle that she believes her firing was due to her animal rights activism. Deloitte & Touche does accounting work for Wegmans Food Markets, and Chemes told The Democrat & Chronicle, “I believe Wegmans pressured them into firing me.”

Deloitte & Touche said it would not comment on a confidential personnel matter. Wegmans, however, said it did contact Deloitte & Touche about Chemes. According to The Democrat & Chronicle,

When news accounts of the animal rights documentary surfaced earlier this month, a representative of Deloitte called Wegmans to say “that one of their employees was involved,” she [Wegmans spokeswoman Joe Natale] said.

After that, “our only request to Deloitte & Touche was to assure us that the security of our information was guaranteed,” said Natale.


Fired activist blame Wegmans. Corydon Ireland, Democrat & Chronicle, July 15, 2005.

Animal rights activists charged. Mike Maslanik, Finger Lake Times, August 9, 2005.

Third felony warrant issued in Wegmans Egg Farm Case. Corydon Ireland, Democrat & Chronicle, August 5, 2005.

We Don’t Need Pro-Hunt Liars

Anti-hunters put out enough nonsense without pro-hunters adding their own lies and dishonesties. But that is precisely what two Heritage Foundation commentators do in an article on recent anti-hunting legislation at the state level.

In this case, Heritage’s Trent England and Steve Muscatello lie by omission. They selectively quote from a bill introduced by New York State Assemblyman Alexander Grannis to make it appear as if his bill would ban all hunting outright. Here’s England and Muscatello’s version (emphasis added),

New York has a large, vibrant hunting community outside its metropolitan areas. Assemblyman Alexander Grannis, who is from the nation’s largest metro area, has drafted a bill that could, if passed in its present form, make all hunting illegal in the Empire State. The text of New York State Assembly Bill 1850 reads, in part: “A person is guilty of aggravated cruelty to animals when … he or she intentionally kills … an animal or wild game [or] wild birds.” You don’t have to be a National Rifle Association die-hard to see the danger in a bill that makes pursuit of game, “so as to capture or kill,” a felony with a minimum one-year prison sentence and a $5,000 fine. Advocates, of course, claim this is merely a means to criminalize the torture of animals. But the phrase “intentionally kills,” in this context, clearly could apply to hunters as well as those who would mistreat animals for fun.

Now compare the text of the bill’s language that England and Muscatello quote compared to the full text of the bill, (emphasis added),

A person is guilty of aggravated cruelty to animals when, with no justifiable purpose, he or she intentionally kills or intentionally causes serious physical injury to a companion animal, OR WILD GAME AND WILD BIRDS AS DEFINED IN SECTION 11-0103 OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION LAW, with aggravated cruelty. For purposes of this section, “aggravated cruelty” shall mean conduct which: (i) is intended to cause extreme physical pain; or (ii) is done or carried out in an especially depraved or sadistic manner.

So the bill doesn’t call for prosecuting people who kill wildlife, but rather people who kill wildlife “with no justifiable purpose” and with the intention of inflicting extreme pain or killing in an extremely depraved or sadistic manner.

Rather than focus on “no justifiable purpose” or “in an especially depraved or sadistic manner”, England deceives readers into thinking that the bill applies to any intentional killing of wildlife, such as hunting.

This is an outrageous distortion. The last thing those of us who oppose the animal rights movement and its anti-hunting agenda need are people like England and Muscatello adopting PETA-like tactics and distorting the truth.


Hunters in the Crosshairs. Trent England and Steve Muscatello, Heritage Foundation, March 31, 2005.

New York Assemblyman Wants Anti-Hunting Office

In February, New York Assemblyman Felix Ortiz introduced a bill in that state’s legislature to create a new Office of Advocacy for Wildlife that would, among other things, be charged with finding alternatives to hunting for managing wildlife populations.

Assembly Bill 4306 would create this new agency which would be charged with, among other things,

To study, develop, encourage and provide assistance for non-lethal management of wildlife.

The full text of AB4306 can be read here.


New York Bill Creates Anti-Hunting Office. U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, March 2005.