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Activists want chimp declared a person

May 27, 2008 | 12:43 pm

Animal_rights_activists_are_trying_Somehow, as we planned for Memorial Day weekend (hot dogs or chicken? Indy or Iron Man? "Living Lohan" or "Deadliest Catch"?)  we missed some of the most important animal news ever.

Austrian animal rights activists are fighting to get a 26-year-old chimpanzee legally declared a "person," and they say they have filed an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. The International Herald Tribune reports:

The Vienna-based Assn. Against Animal Factories insists the chimp needs that legal standing so a guardian can be appointed to look out for his interests — especially if the bankrupt animal shelter caring for him shuts down....

In January, Austria's Supreme Court upheld a lower-court ruling that had rejected the activists' request to have a trustee appointed for the chimp. The high court ruled that under Austrian law, only people are entitled to have guardians.

The full name of the chimp, above, is Matthew Hiasl Pan. Last year, the shelter where he lived filed for bankruptcy protection.

(This all raises another question: Can a human be legally declared a chimp? We can offer up candidates if pressed.)

--  Alice Short

Photo: Lilli Strauss / Associated Press

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