Timeline of the Nonhuman Rights Project

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This is a timeline of the Nonhuman Rights Project, an American animal rights nonprofit organization seeking to change the common law status of at least some nonhuman animals from mere “things,” to “persons,” with fundamental rights.

Big picture

Time period Development summary
1979–2007 Prelude era, starting with Steven M. Wise's self education on animal rights. The Center for the Expansion of Fundamental Rights is founded in 1995.
2007< NhRP era, after it is founded by Steven M. Wise as a project of the Center for the Expansion of Fundamental Rights.
2013< The NhRP starts litigating cases on behalf of animals.[1]

Full timeline

Year Month and date Event type Details
1979 Prelude American legal scholar Steven M. Wise reads philosopher Peter Singer’s landmark book Animal Liberation. Wise would later claim that the book was enormously influential for him. In his words, “I really felt that I could not really un-ring that bell,” (..) “There was more injustice there to be fought than any I could think of anywhere in the universe.”[2]
1995 Prelude Steven M. Wise creates the Center for the Expansion of Fundamental Rights, Inc. (CEFR), which would later be renamed Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc., with Jane Goodall as a board member."[3]
1998 Literature Steven M. Wise publishes article Hardly a Revolution - The Eligibility of Nonhuman Animals for Dignity-Rights in a Liberal Democracy, 22 Vermont Law Review.[4]
2000 Literature Steven M. Wise publishes Rattling the Cage: Toward Legal Rights for Animals[3]
2001 Literature Book chapter written by Steven M. Wise and titled A Great Shout - Breaking the Barriers to Legal Rights for Great Apes, is included in Great Apes and Humans - The Ethics of Coexistence (Smithsonian Press).[4]
2002 Literature Steven M. Wise publishes Drawing the Line: Science and the Case for Animal Rights.[5]
2004 Literature Steven M. Wise writes book chapter Resources on Animals and the Law, in Animals Are the Issue – Library Resources on Animal Issues, by John M. Kistler.[4]
2004 Literature Steven M. Wise writes book chapter Animal Rights, One Step at a Time, in Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions by Cass Sunstein and Martha Nussbaum.[4]
2005 Literature Steven M. Wise writes book chapter Though the Heavens May Fall in Animals Are the Issue – Library Resources on Animal Issues by John M. Kistler.[4]
2006 Literature Steven M. Wise writes book chapter Animal law and animal sacrifice: Analysis of the U.S. Supreme Court Ruling on Santaria animal sacrifice in Hialeah, in A Communion Of Subjects – Animals in Religion, Science, and Ethics by Paul Waldau and Kimberly Patton.[6]
2006 Literature Steven M. Wise writes book chapter Entitling Nonhuman Animals to Fundamental Legal Rights on the Basis of Practical Autonomy, in Animals, Ethics, and Trade (Earthscan).[4]
2007 Creation NhRP is founded by Steven M. Wise as a project of the Center for the Expansion of Fundamental Rights.[3][7]
2007 Literature Steven M. Wise publishes article The entitlement of chimpanzees to the common law writs of habeas corpus and de homine replegiando to challenge their legal thinghood.[4]
2008 Literature Steven M. Wise publishes article Rights of Farmed Animals.[4]
2011 Literature Steven M. Wise publishes article Legal Personhood and the Nonhuman Rights Project.[4]
2012 The Center for the Expansion of Fundamental Rights officially changes its name to the Nonhuman Rights Project.[8]
2012 July Documentary Documentary filmmakers D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus announce that their next project, Unlocking the Cage, would follow the NhRP's efforts to achieve legal rights for nonhuman animals.[9]
2013 Legal NhRP commences a strategic litigation campaign demanding that courts recognize the legal personhood of great apes, cetaceans, and elephants.[10]
2013 Legal NhRP files petitions in three trial courts in the state of New York demanding that common law writs of habeas corpus be issued on behalf of captive chimpanzees Tommy, Kiko, Hercules, and Leo; and shift the chimps to a sanctuary.[11][12] The chimpanzee lawsuits are rejected in New York Court.[11] NhRP claims that the four chimpanzees being kept in facilities throughout the state are, in fact, unlawfully detained prisoners.[13]
2014 Literature Constitutional law scholar Sanford Levinson publishes article commenting on the “sophisticated arguments for animal rights” and wondering whether animal rights activists are like slavery abolitionists, and whether society’s views about animals will be “dismissed with contempt by future generations.”[14]
2014 April Steven M. Wise states that it is scientifically proven that chimpanzees, alongside elephants, cetaceans like dolphins and whales, and African grey parrots, are among a class of nonhuman animals that exhibit high cognitive ability. Wise argues that they're self-aware, they experience pain and joy and they suffer terribly from confinement.[15]
2014 December Legal The New York State Supreme Court, Apellate Division, rules in a case where NhRP, representing a chimpanzee called Tommy, calls for the court to "enlarge the common-law definition of 'person' in order to afford legal rights to an animal".[16]
2014 Late year Expansion NhRP president Steven M. Wise and Executive Director Natalie Prosin announce in the Global Journal of Animal Law that the Nonhuman Rights Project would be expanding its work into other countries, beginning in Switzerland, Argentina, England, Spain, Portugal, and Australia..[17]
2015 Legal NhRP petitions the Supreme Court of New York State for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of two chimpanzees, Hercules and Leo, in an attempt to secure their release from the State University of New York to a sanctuary in Florida.[18] In April, NhRP is granted an order to show cause and writ of habeas corpus on behald of the two chimpanzees.[19]
2015 March 19 Legal NhRP re-files its case on behalf of Hercules and Leo in the New York County Supreme Court.[20]
2015 December Review Animal Charity Evaluators publishes first review of NhRP, rating the organization as a "Standout Charity".[21]
2016 Legal A litigation modeled on the NhRP’s results in the recognition of a chimpanzee, Cecilia, as a legal person with rights in Argentina and her transfer to a sanctuary in Brazil.[22]
2016 Documentary Documentary titled Unlocking the Cage is released. It exposes NhRP’s litigation work. Since its release, Unlocking the Cage would be watched over 1 million times through HBO’s platforms and many more times through the British, French, and German national TV.[1]
2017 November Review Animal Charity Evaluators updates review of NhRP, rating its status as "Standout Charity: Special Interest".[23]
2017 November Legal The NhRP files an habeas corpus petition on behalf of elephants Beulah, Minnie, and Karen, with the support of world-renowned elephant experts including Joyce Poole and Cynthia Moss. The NhRP asks the court to recognize their common law right to bodily liberty, order the elephants freed from their decades-long captivity, and order their transfer to the Performing Animal Welfare Society’s ARK 2000 natural habitat sanctuary, where they would be able to choose how to live their lives while living in a community of elephants.[22]
2018 January 17 Legal NhRP announces it has filed a motion to reargue with the Connecticut Superior Court, Litchfield County, asking the court to reverse its dismissal of the habeas corpus petition the NhRP filed in November on behalf of elephants Beulah, Minnie, and Karen, held in captivity for decades as part of a traveling circus based in Goshen, Connecticut.[22]
2018 February Study NhRP publishes the results of a nationally representative survey conducted with Professor Garrett Broad of Fordham University. The survey indicates that nearly half of Americans say they support legal rights for nonhuman animals.[24]
2018 March Animal liberation NhRP's chimpanzee clients Hercules and Leo are finally free of the New Iberia Research Center, demonstrating the positive impact of the worldwide media attention and public pressure created by NhRP's litigation.[24]
2018 May Outreach As part of NhRP's international outreach, President Steven M. Wise and NhRP Executive Director Kevin Schneider visits Hong Kong, Malaysia, and India to discuss the NhRP’s work and connect with others interested in seeking actual legal rights for nonhuman animals in their respective countries.[25]
2018 May Legal NhRP files a second habeas corpus petition in Connecticut on behalf of NhRP's elephant clients Beulah, Karen, and Minnie to avoid any undue delay in securing their liberty while the appellate process is proceeding on the rejection of NhRP's first habeas corpus petition on their behalf.[24]
2018 October Legal The Nonhuman Rights Project files a suit against Bronx Zoo in New York City on behalf of elephant Happy, demanding the recognition of her “legal personhood and fundamental right to bodily liberty” as well as her transfer to an elephant sanctuary.[26][27][28]

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See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 "THE NONHUMAN RIGHTS PROJECT (NHRP)". animalcharityevaluators.org. Retrieved 29 October 2018. 
  2. "SHOULD ANIMALS BE CONSIDERED PEOPLE?". psmag.com. Retrieved 30 October 2018. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "2013 is here, and we are ready!". NhRP Website. Nonhuman Rights Project. January 16, 2013. Archived from the original on October 14, 2013. Retrieved October 15, 2018. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 "Steven M. Wise" (PDF). derechoanimal.info. Retrieved 29 October 2018. 
  5. Wise, Steven M. "Unlocking the Cage: Science and the Case for Animal Rights". books.google.com. 
  6. "A Communion of Subjects". cup.columbia.edu. Retrieved 26 October 2018. 
  7. "New Science Emboldens Long Shot Bid for Dolphin, Whale Rights". wired.com. Retrieved 27 October 2018. 
  8. "What Is The Nonhuman Rights Project?". NhRP Website. Nonhuman Rights Project. June 2, 2012. 
  9. "'War Room' Directors Making Animal Rights Documentary". Degen Pener. The Hollywood Reporter. July 25, 2012. 
  10. The Palgrave Handbook of Practical Animal Ethics (Andrew Linzey, Clair Linzey ed.). 
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Chimpanzee Lawsuits Rejected in New York Court". natureworldnews.com. Retrieved 27 October 2018. 
  12. "Nonhuman Rights Project". britannica.com. Retrieved 15 October 2018. 
  13. "Nonhuman Rights Project Takes an Absurd Step In Its Quest for Animal Rights". bustle.com. Retrieved 27 October 2018. 
  14. "Scholarly Support for Nonhuman Rights—And Why It Matters". nonhumanrights.org. Retrieved 27 October 2018. 
  15. "Should Animals Have The Same Rights As People?". wnycstudios.org. Retrieved 16 October 2018. 
  16. Legal Personhood: Animals, Artificial Intelligence and the Unborn (Visa A.J. Kurki, Tomasz Pietrzykowski ed.). 
  17. "The Nonhuman Rights Project: Coming to a Country Near You" (PDF). Steven Wise, Natalie Prosin. Global Journal of Animal Law. December 2014. Retrieved 16 October 2018. 
  18. Rees, Paul A. The Laws Protecting Animals and Ecosystems. 
  19. Norm Antipreneurs and the Politics of Resistance to Global Normative Change (Alan Bloomfield, Shirley V. Scott ed.). 
  20. "Hercules & Leo Re-file Documents : The Nonhuman Rights Project". Archived from the original on 2015-12-22. Retrieved 2017-01-26. 
  21. "THE NONHUMAN RIGHTS PROJECT (NHRP)". animalcharityevaluators.org. Retrieved 16 October 2018. 
  22. "THE NONHUMAN RIGHTS PROJECT (NHRP)". animalcharityevaluators.org. Retrieved 16 October 2018. 
  23. 24.0 24.1 24.2 "Upholding Fundamental Values and Principles of Justice". nonhumanrights.org. Retrieved 16 October 2018. 
  24. "The NhRP in Hong Kong, Malaysia, and India". nonhumanrights.org. Retrieved 16 October 2018. 
  25. "Animal rights group claims Bronx elephant is a person". nypost.com. Retrieved 27 October 2018. 
  26. "Animal advocates sue Bronx Zoo, seeking release of Happy the elephant". nydailynews.com. Retrieved 27 October 2018. 
  27. "Elephant being 'unlawfully imprisoned,' activist group says". pressherald.com. Retrieved 27 October 2018.