Justin Marceau & Angela Fernandez, “What Happy the Elephant’s Legal Case Tells Us About the Future of Animal Rights” Slate (17 June 2022).
Summary: Happy the elephant made history on Tuesday. By arguing for her release from the Bronx Zoo, she became the first animal to have a case for animal rights decided by a court of last resort in North America. New York’s highest court, the New York Court of Appeals, unequivocally recognized that “elephants are intelligent beings deserving of proper care and compassion” and noted that under existing law “they are not the equivalent of ‘things’ or ‘objects.’” Ultimately, Happy lost her case by a 5-2 vote. On the most basic level, this means that Happy will not be released from the zoo to live out her life in a sanctuary. But beyond the straightforward consequences, and the majority’s attempt at explaining “the relative simplicity of the legal issue,” the reasoning offered in Happy’s case highlights a few key, but less obvious, lessons for the future of animal rights law. Read the article here.