The Fight For Legal Rights For Animals

A chimpanzee stands behind the window of his cage as a person knocks at the window on March 28, 2014 at the Bioparco of Rome.  - TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images

A chimpanzee stands behind the window of his cage as a person knocks at the window on March 28, 2014 at the Bioparco of Rome.

TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images

The Fight For Legal Rights For Animals

New research shows that animals like chimps, orcas and elephants have self-awareness, language and emotions. Now lawyers are using this evidence to fight for legal rights for animals. Diane and guests discuss granting personhood status to non-humans.

In the U.S. there are many laws on the books to protect animals from abuse. But a group of lawyers is trying to take animal rights a huge step further. Led by longtime animal advocate Steven Wise, the Nonhuman Rights Project filed a lawsuit recently on behalf of a chimpanzee named Tommy. Citing evidence of the cognitive sophistication of chimps and other species, the group ultimately seeks personhood status for animals. A number of leading primatologists are among those who support the effort. But there is also enormous opposition – on legal, moral and practical grounds. Diane and her guests discuss the fight for legal rights for animals.

Guests

Steven Wise

lawyer and president of the Nonhuman Rights Project; author of "Rattling the Cage: Toward Legal Rights for Animals."

Charles Siebert

poet, journalist, essayist and contributing writer for The New York Times magazine.

Robert Destro

professor of law and director of the Interdisciplinary Program in Law & Religion, Columbus School of Law, at The Catholic University of America.

Alan Dittrich

president of the Massachusetts Society for Medical Research.

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