There's an incredible case before the highest court in New York ... a case in which an animal rights org has filed legal docs asking the judges to give an elephant at the Bronx Zoo the same rights as a person ... to sue over illegal confinement in order to gain freedom.
The elephant in the room -- or in this case the Zoo -- is Happy, who was captured in Asia back in the '70s when she was 1-year old.
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A group called the Nonhuman Rights Project has filed a writ of habeas corpus -- a legal move to get the animal out of confinement -- claiming Happy has effectively been imprisoned by the Zoo in a 1-acre facility. The group wants Happy removed from the facility and taken to a more spacious sanctuary.
The NRP claims Happy should be treated as a person in the legal system, arguing the animal is cognitively complex and autonomous ... worthy of protections afforded humans.
The org claims Happy is the first elephant to pass a self-awareness test ... she consistently touched a white "X" on her forehead as she looked in a mirror.
Youtube/Nonhuman Rights Project
The New York Court of Appeals heard oral arguments yesterday, and the lawyer for the Zoo argued Happy is indeed happy, swimming, foraging and doing stuff elephants like to do.
At least one of the judges was skeptical, asking the lawyer for NRG, "So, does that mean that I couldn't keep a dog? I mean dogs can memorize words." The NRG lawyer shot back, elephants are way more cognitively complex than pooches.