And finally… elephant in the room

Animal rights advocates have failed to persuade a court that an elephant named Happy who was captured at the age of one and brought to the US is legally a person.

New York’s highest appeals court ruled by 5-2 that Asian elephant Happy, who was born in the wild in Thailand, has not been illegally detained at the Bronx Zoo, where she has lived for more than 40 years, The New York Times reports.

In her ruling, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said: “While no one disputes the impressive capabilities of elephants, we reject petitioner’s arguments that it is entitled to seek the remedy of habeas corpus on Happy’s behalf.

“Habeas corpus is a procedural vehicle intended to secure the liberty rights of human beings who are unlawfully restrained, not non-human animals.”

She added that any finding to the contrary “would have an enormous destabilising impact on modern society” – potentially affecting pets as well as farm and zoo animals.

Two judges issued dissenting judgments siding with the Nonhuman Rights Group which brought the case.

In her dissent, Judge Jenny Rivera wrote: “[Happy’s] captivity is inherently unjust and inhumane. It is an affront to a civilized society, and every day she remains a captive—a spectacle for humans—we, too, are diminished.”

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