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Honoring the legacy of our founder

On February 15, 2024, Steven M. Wiseour founder, president, and friendpassed away after a long illness. His vision of a world where nonhuman rights are recognized alongside human rights lives on, and our work continues.

Read about Steve’s legacy here.

A video message from the NhRP

Learn about our unique mission and work.

Our clients

Our initial cases demand the right to liberty of self-aware, autonomous nonhuman beings who undeniably suffer when deprived of their freedom.

Donate to support the fight

Your gift will help make nonhuman rights a legal reality and end the suffering caused by animals' rightlessness.

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Support nonhuman animal rights litigation, legislation, and education in a few clicks!

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The Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc.
611 Pennsylvania Ave SE #345
Washington, DC 20003

Planned giving

Legacy gifts to the NhRP help ensure a future where the rights of animals are recognized and protected.

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Share with your friends and family why the NhRP's mission is important to you.

Take action

Here are some quick ways to help our clients and show your support for our mission.

Action alert

Submit a message to help #FreeTheFresnoElephants.
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Action alert

Submit a message to help #FreeHappy and #FreePatty.
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Sign petition

Join others in calling for Happy's freedom.
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Tweet support

Elephants don’t belong in zoos.
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Sign petition

Join others in calling for freedom for the Fresno Chaffee Zoo elephants.
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Tweet support

The science is clear. When will the law catch up?
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I believe in a world where nonhuman rights are protected alongside human rights.
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We aren’t the only beings who need and want to live freely.
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Media coverage

New Yorker
“A curious legal crusade is raising profound questions about the interdependence of the animal and human kingdoms.”
Associated Press
“Animal rights activists have started legal efforts aimed at removing elephants from zoos.”
The Atlantic
“No case like this has ever reached so high a court, anywhere in the English-speaking world.”

How we're creating legal change



Working to pass the first nonhuman rights laws in the US
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Raising awareness of the need and basis for nonhuman rights
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A brief history of the NhRP's impact

As in any fight for social justice, persistence is key to progress. Below are some key milestones in our fight for nonhuman rights.
December 2013
The NhRP launches our long-term litigation campaign in New York with habeas corpus petitions demanding the right to liberty of four captive chimpanzees.
May 2015
Our chimpanzee clients Hercules and Leo become the first nonhuman animals in history to have habeas corpus hearings to determine the lawfulness of their imprisonment.
May 2018
A judge on New York's highest court urges his fellow judges to treat our clients' rightlessness as “a deep dilemma of ethics and policy that demands our attention."
November 2017
The NhRP files the first-ever habeas corpus petition on behalf of elephants.
May 2022
The New York Court of Appeals becomes the highest court in the US to hear arguments in support of nonhuman animal rights in our elephant client Happy's case.
June 2022
Two judges on New York's highest court issue powerful dissents in support of Happy the elephant's right to liberty.


Elephants Mari and Vaigai stand in a mostly dirt pen in the Honolulu Zoo elephant exhibit

Our first Hawaii hearing

Yesterday in Honolulu with NhRP supporters in attendance, I was honored to appear in court on behalf of elephants Mari…

Tommy the chimpanzee in a cage

In memory of Tommy the chimpanzee

A little over ten years ago, the Nonhuman Rights Project’s founder, lawyer and legal scholar Steven Wise, visited a used…

The Nonhuman Rights Project is hiring a Development Director!

Note: this position has now been filled. The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) is hiring a Development Director to lead and…

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