Should elephants be classed as people ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Geir Kiste
An elephant named 'Happy' has been the subject of a legal battle to have her released back into the wild.
The 51-year-old elephant, who now resides at Bronx Zoo in New York, was actually born in the wild in Thailand in the 1970s before being captured and brought to the United States.
In recent months she has been the subject of a court case brought by the Nonhuman Rights Project which maintains that it is illegal to hold the animal captive because she is sufficiently emotionally intelligent to be considered a person and deserves basic human rights.
The ultimate aim of the case was to have the elephant released from captivity.
Sadly for Happy, however, the court ruled that the legal principles which protect humans from unlawful incarceration do not apply to elephants.
"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," wrote Chief Judge Janet DiFiore.
"Habeas corpus is a procedural vehicle intended to secure the liberty rights of human beings who are unlawfully restrained, not nonhuman animals."
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