Chimps in New York animal rights lawsuit to be retired from lab

Fri Jul 31, 2015 6:57pm EDT
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By Katie Reilly

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The chimpanzees at the center of a New York State Supreme Court case over the legal rights of animals will no longer be used for research, officials at the State University of New York at Stony Brook said on Friday.

The retirement of the chimps, named Hercules and Leo, follows a failed bid by an animal rights group in state court to get the primates released on legal grounds.

The Nonhuman Rights Project, which advocates for the legal rights of animals, in March sued Stony Brook, where the chimps were used for physiological research.

On Thursday, New York State Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffe dismissed the suit, which aimed to get the chimpanzees relocated to a sanctuary in Florida by arguing they had a right not to be living in cages.

They said the animals were intelligent enough to be allowed protections that apply to humans, like relief from unlawful imprisonment.

Lauren Sheprow, a spokeswoman for Stony Brook, said on Friday that the research project had concluded several weeks ago and the chimps would no longer be used for any research at the university. She said Thursday's court ruling did not impact the timing of the animals' retirement.

In a court filing, Jaffe said the precedent set by previous state appeals determined her ruling, but she acknowledged that intelligent animals might someday be entitled to limited legal rights.

"Efforts to extend legal rights to chimpanzees are thus understandable; some day they may even succeed," Jaffe wrote.   Continued...