This is an interesting legal request and something I think all animals should be granted. India recently officially recognized dolphins as non-human persons, whose rights to life and liberty must be respected. Dolphin parks that were being built across the country will instead be shut down (24.05.2013).
Animal rights group asks US courts to recognize chimpanzees as ‘legal persons’
An animal rights group has asked three US courts to recognize the “legal personhood” of chimpanzees. The case has been filed on behalf of four chimps the group says have a “fundamental legal right” to liberty.
Nonhuman Rights Project filed the lawsuit to a New York state court asking it to grant a 26-year-old chimp named Tommy “legal personhood,” the New York Times reported Tuesday.
It seeks a declaration that Tommy’s “detention” in a “small, dank, cement cage in a cavernous dark shed” in central New York is unlawful. It demands his immediate release to a primate sanctuary, where he can live out the rest of his days in an environment as close to his natural habitat as possible.
“This petition asks this court to issue a writ recognizing that Tommy is not a legal thing to be possessed by respondents, but rather is a cognitively complex autonomous legal person with the fundamental legal right not to be imprisoned,” the court filing says.