Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageResearch chimp use questioned by U.S. judge

By Tim Sandle     May 2, 2015 in Science
New York State Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffe has ordered officials at Stony Brook University to provide justification for their custody of Hercules and Leo, two chimpanzees used in research.
The issue of using chimpanzees in research has long been controversial. Some animal-rights activists have argued chimps, as well as other animals with human qualities, should be entitled to the same protections that humans enjoy. It was part of this debate that led U.S. President Barack Obama to sign a bill supporting the retirement of federally owned research chimpanzees at the tail end of 2013.
Despite the ending of U.S. government sanctioned chimp research, the issue remains a real one in the world of academia and the pharmaceutical industry.
Justice Barbara Jaffe's granting a writ of habeas corpus — through which plaintiffs can argue against unlawful detainment — on behalf of the chimps is the latest development in a years-long string of legal proceedings stemming from cases brought by the Nonhuman Rights Project. This group maintains that research chimps like Hercules and Leo should be released to sanctuaries. Stony Brook University opposes this and counter-argues that chimps play an important and necessary part in research. Stony Brook will present its justification for keeping the animals at a May hearing.
The final say on whether chimps will be considered legal persons does not, however, end in May. “The Order does not necessarily mean that the Court has declared that the two chimpanzees, Hercules and Leo, are legal persons for the purpose of an Article 70 common law writ of habeas corpus proceeding,” the Nonhuman Rights Project has said in a statement.
According to David Bookstaver, a spokesman for the New York State court system: “All this does is allow the parties to argue their case in court,” as he told The New York Times. There is plenty of mileage left in this case.
More about Chimps, research chimps, animal experiments
More news from