Should animals have personality rights?

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For years, legal activists fought to free their client… who was… an elephant. They argued that Happy the Elephant was imprisoned against her will in a New York zoo.

Earlier this year, the state’s highest court rejected that argument.

But the question now arises: if companies can have personality rights, why not animals too?

With each passing year, scientists are learning more about the complex cognitive and emotional lives of animals.

“For example, chimpanzees, they console others who are in distress. So if someone screams after a fight, others come to hug them and calm them down,” says Frans De Waal.

And each new scientific discovery forces us humans to think about how we treat the rest of the animal kingdom.

“Based on what science tells us, based on autonomy, cognitive complexity, we have to change things,” says Elizabeth Stein.

Thus, a growing number of activists have called for a legal change in humanity’s relationship with animals.

Not just to expand animal rights…they’ve gone to court arguing that some animals should be granted personality rights.

Today, About: A pipe dream or an essential reset of how humans think about our dominance over the natural world?


David Schelprofessor of marine biology at Alaska Pacific University.

Elizabeth SteinNew York lawyer and attorney for the Nonhuman Rights Project.

Richard Cupp, professor of law at the Pepperdine Caruso School of Law. Animal welfare advocate.

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