New York's highest court has ruled that Happy, the 51-year-old Asian elephant who resides at the Bronx Zoo, is not a person. The Nonhuman Rights Project brought the case that Happy should be recognized as a person, in the legal sense, and freed from being "imprisoned" at the zoo. They believe he should be moved to an animal sanctuary. From National Geographic:
The court's 5-2 ruling on June 14 means Happy is not entitled to the fundamental right of bodily liberty, or freedom from imprisonment[…]
This was the fourth court the NhRP has argued before on Happy's behalf, and it's the highest court an animal rights case has reached in the United States.
Personhood is a legal designation that indicates an entity has the capacity for rights or responsibilities. Corporations, bodies of water, and other animals in countries around the world have been recognized as persons. In the U.S., no specific designation exists for nonhuman animals. In the U.S., animals are things[…]
"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," chief judge Janet DiFiore wrote. "Habeas corpus is a procedural vehicle intended to secure the liberty rights of human beings who are unlawfully restrained, not nonhuman animals."