Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Austrian Court to Decide if Chimpanzee is Deserving of “Human Status”

From "Austrian Court to Decide if Chimpanzee is Deserving of “Human Status” by Meg Jalsevec, posted 4/4/07, at

Animal rights activists and leading experts in several biological fields including primatology and anthropology are joining forces to uphold a case going before an Austrian court which seeks a declaration of ‘human status’ for a 26 year old chimpanzee.

According to media reports, the chimpanzee known as Hiasl was barely one year old in 1982 when he was illegally smuggled out of his birth place of Sierra Leone and into Austria to be used, along with several other chimps, for AIDS and hepatitis research at a laboratory near Vienna. Customs officials discovered Hiasl and rerouted him to an animal sanctuary where he resided until this year.

The sanctuary now faces bankruptcy and Hiasl’s future is once again uncertain with the possibility that he may be shipped to the original lab that he was destined for.

Spearheaded by the efforts of Dr. Martin Balluch, president of Austria’s animal rights organization, activists are campaigning to protect Hiasl from possibly being sent back to the lab by working to have a legal guardian appointed over him. However, since only humans have the right to a legal guardian, they must first convince the court that the chimpanzee, is in fact, ‘human’.

And that is exactly what they intend to do. With the help of testimony from individuals like ‘primate rights’ activist, Jane Goodall and wild chimp expert Volker Sommer, Hiasl’s entourage intends to argue several points to demonstrate his humanity and his right to the subsequent privileges.

Read the rest of this article.