For the last 41 years, an elephant by the name of Happy has lived at the Bronx Zoo. A group called the Nonhumans Rights Project is trying to free her.
According to the organization, which seeks to provide better legal rights to animals, Happy has proven cognitive abilities via a mirror self-recognition test and should not live out the rest of her life in a cage. Because of this, the group has asked a judge to treat Happy as if she were any other person illegally detained–and the judge has agreed to grant this order.
Last week, Justice Tracey Bannister agreed to hear arguments next month relating to Happy’s detainment. By letting the case go forward, the Nonhumans Rights Project calls this the first instance of an elephant being granted a habeas corpus order–something that, before, only humans could secure.
The organization claims that Happy isn’t being given adequate freedom. Her companion passed away 16 years ago, and she has reportedly not been able to socialize with other elephants at the zoo. “The entirety of the zoo’s elephant exhibit provides far less than even 1% of the space she would roam in a single day in the wild,” said Steven M. Wise, the founder of the Nonhumans Rights Group to Courthouse News. Thus, that’s why his group is fighting to get Happy freed.
The legal battle is still ongoing–the Bronx Zoo maintains that the case is ludicrous and that Happy shows no signs of psychological stress. Still, the Nonhuman Rights Group believes this to be a monumental victory for the legal rights of animals.