The lawsuits, filed last week by the Nonhuman Rights Project on behalf of four chimpanzees — Kiko, Tommy, Leo, and Hercules — were all promptly rejected out of hand by New York judges.

Kiko with owner Carmen Presti. (Photo- Charles Lewis)

Kiko with owner Carmen Presti. (Photo- Charles Lewis)

Kiko’s hearing was conducted over the phone by Judge Ralph Boniello. Asked to rule on the claim that chimpanzees deserve to be granted rights of bodily liberty historically reserved for humans, Boniello commented, “I’m not going to be the one to make that leap of faith.”

Tommy’s case was heard by Judge Joseph Sise. “I will be available as the judge for any other lawsuit to right any wrongs that are done to this chimpanzee because I understand what you’re saying,” Sise said. He noted that the Nonhuman Rights Project made “a very strong argument,” but article 70 of New York’s legal code, which guides habeas corpus decisions, didn’t include chimps.

Leo and Hercules, owned by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s New Iberia Research Center and on loan to a laboratory at Stony Brook University, were denied habeas corpus by Judge Gerard Asher summarily without holding a hearing.

All the decisions will be appealed.

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