Happy the elephant will NOT be freed from the Bronx Zoo ... after New York's highest court ruled the animal is not legally a person and is thus not being illegally detained.
The ruling from the Court of Appeals came down Tuesday ... a 5-2 decision rejecting an animal rights organization's argument that Happy deserves the same liberty rights as a human.
Youtube/Nonhuman Rights Project
Remember ... the Nonhuman Rights Project sued to get Happy out of the zoo and moved to a more spacious sanctuary, arguing the Asian elephant is worthy of protections afforded to people as a cognitively complex and autonomous animal. Happy was captured in Asia back in the '70s when she was only 1 year old and has been at the Bronx Zoo ever since.
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The issue before the court ... whether the writ of habeas corpus -- which humans use to challenge illegal confinement -- should apply to super smart animals like elephants. The judges ruled, no.
It's interesting ... the decision noted the potential snowball effect legally recognizing Happy as a person might have on society, with Chief Judge Janet DiFiore noting there could be "an enormous destabilizing impact on modern society."