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A Celebratory Party with the NhRP

By Lisa Rainwater

It didn’t run into the wee hours of a Hollywood Oscars’ party, and there was no red carpet. But all who gathered at Lower Manhattan’s welcoming V-Spot restaurant on March 16th found much merriment.

And how could we not?

It was just hours after NhRP President Steve Wise argued before the New York State appellate court that our two chimpanzee clients, Tommy and Kiko, have the right to legal personhood and the right to bodily liberty. While the five-member panel could take six to eight weeks before they hand down a ruling, there was fervor in the air.

Photo: Lukas Maverick Greyson

The event was a special thank you for the NhRP’s stalwart supporters who have invested in our work over the years. It was uplifting to watch folks mingle with each other —¬†some longtime friends, others meeting for the first time — over Latin cuisine and light refreshments. Those who attended the hearing were eager to share their experiences in the courtroom that afternoon, and those who hadn’t been able to attend were rapt with curiosity.

Photo: Lukas Maverick Greyson

After palates were sated, NhRP’s Executive Director, Kevin Schneider, took to the stage to welcome everyone to our soiree. He then introduced Steve, who shared how proud he was to have stood before the New York court representing Tommy and Kiko, two chimpanzees being held captive in upstate New York. The crowd had many questions, but they all wanted to know if judges in past court hearings were as quick to interrupt Steve during his oral argument. Steve smiled, taking it in stride, and answered, “They’re there to ask the tough questions,” he explained, “and I’m there to answer them.”

The NhRP’s newest staffers spoke to our supporters for the first time publicly. As Campaigns Director, I shared my vision for galvanizing public support across the country. Government Relations and Public Affairs Director Matthew Dominguez explained the importance of investing in our work for the nonhuman animals we are seeking to free. To close the evening, Development Director Sue Troutman thanked everyone for attending.

It was a great way to celebrate how far we’ve come in our fight for fundamental rights for nonhuman animals, and remind ourselves that we are up against 4,000 years of history. It is a long and arduous battle we’re committed to winning.

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