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Arguments in Happy’s Elephant Rights Case

By Nonhuman Rights

Join us for a livestream of oral arguments in our elephant rights case to #FreeHappy from the Bronx Zoo to a sanctuary, where she can live with freedom, peace, and dignity for the first time in over four decades.

The proceedings will take place virtually on Thursday, Nov. 19th sometime between 2 p.m. ET and 5 p.m. ET depending on when the court calls us to argue. We’ll post to our Facebook event page (where you can RSVP) and on Twitter when we’re about to begin our arguments, which you’ll be able watch live by visiting the court’s YouTube livestream page (accessible any time):

In 2005, Happy made history as the first elephant to demonstrate self-awareness via the mirror self-recognition test. In 2018, she made history again as the first elephant to have a habeas corpus hearing to determine the lawfulness of her imprisonment after a New York court issued the habeas corpus order the NhRP requested on her behalf.

Since 1977, the Bronx Zoo has imprisoned Happy in an exhibit that can’t meet elephants’ needs. Since 2005, the Bronx Zoo has forced Happy to live without the psychologically necessary companionship of other elephants, claiming against all evidence that Happy is “happy where she is.” Soon Happy will enter a holding facility for the winter until the exhibit re-opens in the spring.

NhRP President Steven M. Wise and NhRP Staff Attorney Elizabeth Stein will argue for the NhRP before a panel of five judges. Attorneys with Phillips Lytle LLP will argue for the Wildlife Conservation Society (which manages the Bronx Zoo) and James Breheny, Director of the Bronx Zoo.

As the NhRP emphasizes in our appeal, “[T]he fact that the Bronx Zoo may be in compliance with various animal welfare laws is wholly irrelevant. This case does not turn on whether Happy’s temperature is being taken, what her blood panel is, or what she has eaten for breakfast. Rather, like all common law habeas corpus cases, it turns on whether Happy’s imprisonment violates her common law right to bodily liberty.”

For a detailed timeline of Happy’s case, links to court filings and Happy’s biography, visit this page.

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