Timeline of the Great Ape Project

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This is a timeline of the Great Ape Project, an international organization aiming to grant basic moral and legal rights to nonhuman great apes –chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans.

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Year Event type Details Location
1925 Book German psychologist Wolfgang Köhler publishes The Mentality of Apes. Germany
1966 Allen and Beatrice Gardner pioneer the teaching of American Sign Language (ASL) to the chimpanzee Washoe
1983 Book David Premack publishes The Mind of an Ape, arguing that it is possible to teach language to (non-human) great apes. United States
1993 (June 14) Creation The Great Ape Project is launched in London by Australian philosopher Peter Singer and Italian philosopher Paola Cavalieri.[1] United Kingdom
1999 New Zealand grants strong protections to five great ape species. Their use is now forbidden in research, testing, or teaching.[2] New Zealand
2000 United States President Bill Clinton signs the CHIMP Act into law, which states that chimpanzees no longer needed for research should not be killed, but moved into sanctuaries, and that the government needs to assume the largest part of funding needed for their lifetime care.[1] United States
2005 (September 9) Kinshasa Declaration on Great Apes
2006 (July 30) During a meeting held in Madrid, decisions are taken to convert the GAP Project into a more truly international movement, that would better reach the entire world and every country. The most important decisions approved by unanimous vote are: 1) The International Direction Board of GAP Project would be integrated by representatives from the six areas of the world that would run operations: USA/ Canada, Latin America, European Community of Nations, Africa, Asia and Australia/ New Zeland. 2) The Direction Board would have as President, Michele Stump. The philosopher Peter Singer, founder of this Project, would continue to be the Chairman of the Board/Honorary President. 3) The Board of Directors, besides Michele Stump, would include Paco Cuéllar from Madrid, representing the European Community, and Dr. Pedro A. Ynterian, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, representing Latin America. 4) The Board of Directors would hold a yearly meeting, in different regions each time. The Board of Directors would have the responsibility to establish rules, proposals, and basic principles of GAP targets, and through her President would assume positions in front of the world debate about Great Apes. 5) Each ones of six areas where Project is divided would have the responsibility to establish efficient organizations under his or her control, that take all principles of GAP Project to every human existing society.[3] Spain
2006 GAP Brazil is officially represented by GAP.[4] Brazil
2007 (February 28) The parliament of the Balearic Islands passes the world's first legislation that would effectively grant legal personhood rights to all great apes.[5] Spain
2007 An amendment to the CHIMP Act prohibits use for research ever again on chimpanzees that were mover into sanctuaries.[1] United States
2008 The Great Ape Protection Act is introduced to end biomedical research using the remaining chimpanzees in the United States.[1] United States
2008 (June) The Spanish Parliament’s environmental committee approves resolutions urging Spain to comply with the Great Apes Project, voicing its support for the rights of great apes to life and freedom.[6] On 25 June, the Spanish Parliament submits to discussion and approves a resolution by the Izquerda Unida Paliament Comission and Catalunya Party which requests that the Government recoganizes, within four months, GAP Project and its objectives as principals of the Spanish Government and does whatever it is necessary to adapt the country legislation to GAP objectives. The Spanish Parliament is the first in the world declaring endorsement to principals and objectives that consider the great apes as people.[7] Spain
2008 (July) Partnership GAP Project affiliates to the World Society for the Protection of Animals.[8]
2008 (September) After a decision by GAP Project International’s Directive Committee, a new board of directors is elected and the world project for protection and defense of the great primates’ rights has Brazil as the new headquarter.[9] Brazil
2008 Brazil has four sanctuaries affiliated and aligned with GAP’s ideas. The sanctuaries rehome 71 chimpanzees, the majority rescued and recovered after being mistreated at circus or living under inadequate conditions in zoos.[4] Brazil
2009 (May) International agency Associated Press produces a news video about GAP Project in Brazil. The video is exhibited at National Geographic website.[10] Brazil
2009 (May) Event GAP Project Brazil/International participates in the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) workshop, aiming to know better the reality of African sanctuaries and to help in the improvement of the process of spreading information about the rights of great primates.[11]
2009 (May) Award GAP Project Spain is awarded with Chico Mendes Prize, aimed at those who contribute with environment and nature preservation. The prize takes the name of a Brazilian leader, Chico Mendes.[12] Spain
2009 (July 26) GAP Project participates in the show “The Big Questions”, chaired by Nicky Campbell and broadcasted on BBC. GAP is invited to debate the theme “Should we give civil rights to apes?” and is represented by philosopher Paula Casal Ribas, vice-president of GAP Spain.[13]
2010 (May) GAP Spain launches Project Free Cetaceans, which intends to extend rights requests to the cetaceans, considered to be the great simians of the oceans.[14] Spain
2011 (December 15) A report concluding a study commissioned by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and conducted by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) states that ‘while the chimpanzee has been a valuable animal model in past research, most current use of chimpanzees for biomedical research is unnecessary’.[15] United States
2012 (September 21) The National Institute of Health announces that 110 chimpanzees owned by the Government of the United States will be retired.[16] United States
2014 A court in Argentina issues an unprecedented ruling that favors the rights of an orangutan held in captivity.[17] Argentina
2015 (April) Justice Barbara Jaffe of New York State Supreme Court orders a writ of habeas corpus to two captive chimpanzees.[18] On April 21, the ruling is amended to strike the words "writ of habeas corpus".[19][20] United States
2016 (May) Expansion Great Ape Project Uruguay is launched.[21] Uruguay
2017 Expansion The International Great Ape Project, consisting already of independent bodies in Brazil, Chile, Côte d'Ivoire, Germany, Mexico, Spain and Uruguay, opens its eighth National Chapter: Great Britain.[22] United Kingdom

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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Bekoff, Marc. Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare, 2nd Edition [2 volumes]: Second Edition. 
  3. "GAP PROJECT REORGANIZED". projetogap.org.br. Retrieved 22 August 2018. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "History". projetogap.org.br. Retrieved 22 August 2018. 
  5. Thomas Rose (2 August 2007). "Going ape over human rights". CBC News. Archived from the original on 2010-02-03. Retrieved 22 August 2018. 
  6. "Spanish parliament to extend rights to apes". reuters.com. Retrieved 22 August 2018. 
  7. "SPANISH PARLIAMENT SUPPORTS GAP PROJECT AND ITS OBJECTIVES". projetogap.org.br. Retrieved 22 August 2018. 
  8. "GAP PROJECT AFFILIATES TO WSPA". projetogap.org.br. Retrieved 22 August 2018. 
  9. "BRAZIL IS THE NEW HEADQUARTER FOR GREAT APE PROJECT – GAP". projetogap.org.br. Retrieved 22 August 2018. 
  10. "GAP Project at National Geographic (video)". projetogap.org.br. Retrieved 23 August 2018. 
  11. "GAP Project participates of PASA Workshop". projetogap.org.br. Retrieved 23 August 2018. 
  12. "GAP Project/ PGS awarded with Chico Mendes Prize". projetogap.org.br. Retrieved 23 August 2018. 
  13. "GAP Project on BBC". projetogap.org.br. Retrieved 23 August 2018. 
  14. "GAP Spain launches Project Free Cetaceans". projetogap.org.br. Retrieved 23 August 2018. 
  15. "Chimpanzees in Biomedical and Behavioral Research: Assessing the Necessity". iom.edu. Institute of Medicine. December 15, 2011. Archived from the original on August 5, 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2018. 
  16. Greenfieldboyce, Nell (21 September 2012). "Government Officials Retire Chimpanzees From Research". NPR. Retrieved 22 August 2018. 
  17. Giménez, Emiliano (January 4, 2015). "Argentine orangutan granted unprecedented legal rights". edition.cnn.com. CNN Espanol. Retrieved 22 August 2018. 
  18. "Judge Recognizes Two Chimpanzees as Legal Persons, Grants them Writ of Habeas Corpus". nonhumanrightsproject.org. Nonhuman Rights Project. April 20, 2015. Archived from the original on September 9, 2016. Retrieved 22 August 2018. 
  19. "Judge Barbara Jaffe's amended court order" (PDF). iapps.courts.state.ny.us. New York Supreme Court. April 21, 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 30, 2015. Retrieved 22 August 2018. 
  20. "Judge Orders Stony Brook University to Defend Its Custody of 2 Chimps". www.nytimes.com. New York Times. April 21, 2015. Retrieved 22 August 2018. 
  21. "Nace en Uruguay el Proyecto Gran Simio". projetogap.org.br. Retrieved 22 August 2018. 
  22. "GAP Affiliated Sanctuaries". greatapeproject.uk. Retrieved 22 August 2018.