Non-profit

Nonhuman Rights Project

Website:

www.nonhumanrights.org

Location:

CORAL SPRINGS, FL

Tax ID:

04-3289466

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $1,072,353
Expenses: $926,781
Assets: $1,296,071

Type:

Animal Rights Advocacy Group

President:

Steven M. Wise

The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) is an animal liberation organization that works to give some animals the status of “legal personhood” in order to grant them legal rights similar to those of human beings. [1] NhRP has argued that certain species of animals, including apes, elephants, and dolphins, are “autonomous” and thereby deserve “civil rights” to avoid captivity, comparing animals kept in captivity to human beings who are unjustly imprisoned. [2]

NhRP has filed writs of habeas corpus on behalf of several animals in the state of New York seeking to establish their legal personhood and force their release into sanctuaries. None of these legal efforts have succeeded as of January 2021. [3]  NhRP has also engaged in grassroots advocacy and promoted increased regulation to protect the purported civil rights of animals. [4]

Animal liberationist attorney Steven M. Wise is the founder and president of the NhRP. The NhRP board also includes left-wing animal activist and environmentalist Jane Goodall. [5]

History

In 1996, current Nonhuman Rights Project president Steven M. Wise founded NhRP as a project of the Center for the Expansion of Fundamental Rights. In 2012, the Center officially changed its name to Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP). [6] The organization adopted the term “nonhuman” in order to place human beings on the same level as all other animals. [7]

Since 2012, NhRP has branded itself as a “civil rights” organization designed to establish legal rights for animals on the same grounds as human civil rights, claiming that animals wrongfully lack “basic freedoms” against “discrimination and oppression.” NhRP claims that animals are denied legal rights due to their membership in a different species and thus are unlawfully discriminated against through “speciesism,” a direct claim that differential treatment among animal species is equivalent to racial discrimination among humans. NhRP refers to zoos as violating their animals’ rights “not to be imprisoned” and claims that medical testing on animals violates their rights to “bodily integrity.” [8]

In order to assert such “civil rights” for animals, NhRP has worked to have various animals, specifically elephants and chimpanzees, classified as legal persons through litigation and legislation. NhRP has even denied the special character of human beings relative to other animals, arguing that this attitude is a form of “human exceptionalism” that has resulted in “discrimination” against animals and denied them their legal rights. [9]

Advocacy Work

The NhRP engages in left-wing advocacy aimed at establishing the legal personhood of “self-aware” animals, including apes, elephants, dolphins, and whales. [10] NhRP works primarily through litigation, but the Project has recently begun education and legislative advocacy programs as well. [11]

Litigation

NhRP asserts that all “autonomous” animals must be released from captivity out of respect for their “rights.” [12] In pursuit of this goal, NhRP has filed habeas corpus lawsuits in New York on behalf of four chimpanzees and four elephants, claiming that the animals were unjustly imprisoned and demanding their release into animal sanctuaries. [13]

In December of 2013, NhRP brought its first case on behalf of a chimpanzee in the state of New York. NhRP filed a writ of habeas corpus, alleging that the chimpanzee was being held “captive” by its owners. A spokesman for the NhRP at the time of the lawsuit compared the case of the chimpanzee to that of an enslaved man in England in the 18th century, equating the “freeing” of the chimpanzee from its owners to the emancipation of a human being from slavery. NhRP’s motion alleged that the chimpanzee was being treated as a slave in captivity and demanded that chimpanzees qualified as “common law” persons. [14]

The following year, NhRP filed similar habeas corpus suits on behalf of three additional chimpanzees. [15] All four cases on behalf of chimpanzees were denied in 2014. [16] NhRP continued to appeal the cases, and in 2015, NhRP secured a habeas corpus hearing for two of the chimpanzees, though the judge who ordered the hearing struck the statement that the chimpanzees were legal persons from the order. [17] Eventually, the chimpanzees were released to the Project Chimp sanctuary by their owners without any legal orders. [18] The New York Court of Appeals denied NhRP’s motions to appeal each of the other two chimpanzee cases in 2018. [19]

After failing in cases related to chimpanzees, NhRP shifted its litigation efforts to elephants. In November 2017, NhRP filed a writ of habeas corpus in Connecticut demanding that three elephants owned by the Commerford Zoo receive a hearing and be released to an animal sanctuary. NhRP continued to pursue the case for three years in the Connecticut court system, even after the death of two of the elephants involved. In December 2020, NhRP suspended its litigation in Connecticut after the Connecticut Supreme Court declined to hear the case of the one remaining elephant. [20]

In September 2019, the NhRP filed another writ on behalf of an elephant in New York that was housed in the Bronx Zoo. Though the elephant received a habeas corpus hearing in 2018, Bronx County Supreme Court Justice Alison Tuitt denied NhRP’s request that the elephant be moved to a sanctuary. In December 2020, the New York Supreme Court’s Appellate Division denied NhRP’s request for habeas corpus relief. [21]

Political Advocacy

In the wake of legal losses, Nonhuman Rights Prokect announced that it would shift its strategy from legal to political campaigns. [22] NhRP has since organized a number of grassroots actions aimed at promoting legal personhood for animals. In February of 2019, NhRP organized protestors outside of a children’s fair hosted by the Commerford Zoo to demand the release of its elephants. [23] In October of 2020, NhRP participated in a protest outside the home of Sharon Lee Patrick, a board member at the Humane Society of the United States, demanding that the society’s Project Chimps sanctuary undergo renovations. [24] NhRP also released a public statement demanding increased access to the outdoors for chimpanzees at the sanctuary. [25]

NhRP has also supported legislation to increase legal protections for animals. In 2019, NhRP supported a Massachusetts bill that sought to ban the use of animals in traveling circuses. [26] As of January 2021, NhRP also claims to be developing a campaign to establish the legal personhood of certain species on a municipal level. [27]

Notable Figures

Steven M. Wise is the founder and president of NhRP. Wise has worked as an animal attorney for thirty years, advocating for the implementation of left-of-center government regulations to purportedly support animal welfare. [28] Prior to working with NhRP, Wise founded the left-of-center Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), which also litigates on behalf of animals. [29]

Far-left environmentalist Jane Goodall has sat on the NhRP board of directors since its founding. [30] Though best known for her research on chimpanzees, Goodall has spent much of her career as an environmentalist activist, supporting left-of-center policies including the total rejection of free-market ideals and the implementation of mass wealth redistribution to support the environment. [31] Goodall has also called for the complete abolition of animal consumption and even compared animal agriculture to concentration camps, placing animals in the same position as Jewish people during the Holocaust. [32] [33]

References

  1. “Frequently Asked Questions.” Nonhuman Rights Project, November 2, 2020. https://www.nonhumanrights.org/frequently-asked-questions/#:~:text=Wise%20founded%20the%20NhRP%20in,legally%20recognized%20and%20enforceable%20rights.   ^
  2. Frequently Asked Questions.” Nonhuman Rights Project, November 2, 2020. https://www.nonhumanrights.org/frequently-asked-questions/#:~:text=Wise%20founded%20the%20NhRP%20in,legally%20recognized%20and%20enforceable%20rights. ^
  3. Nonhuman Rights Project. “Litigation.” Nonhuman Rights Project, October 6, 2020. https://www.nonhumanrights.org/litigation/. ^
  4. “Legislation + Advocacy.” Nonhuman Rights Project, November 16, 2020. https://www.nonhumanrights.org/legislation-and-advocacy/. ^
  5. “Who We Are.” Nonhuman Rights Project, November 6, 2020. https://www.nonhumanrights.org/who-we-are/. ^
  6. Frequently Asked Questions.” Nonhuman Rights Project, November 2, 2020. https://www.nonhumanrights.org/frequently-asked-questions/#:~:text=Wise%20founded%20the%20NhRP%20in,legally%20recognized%20and%20enforceable%20rights. ^
  7. Frequently Asked Questions.” Nonhuman Rights Project, November 2, 2020. https://www.nonhumanrights.org/frequently-asked-questions/#:~:text=Wise%20founded%20the%20NhRP%20in,legally%20recognized%20and%20enforceable%20rights. ^
  8. Frequently Asked Questions.” Nonhuman Rights Project, November 2, 2020. https://www.nonhumanrights.org/frequently-asked-questions/#:~:text=Wise%20founded%20the%20NhRP%20in,legally%20recognized%20and%20enforceable%20rights. ^
  9. Frequently Asked Questions.” Nonhuman Rights Project, November 2, 2020. https://www.nonhumanrights.org/frequently-asked-questions/#:~:text=Wise%20founded%20the%20NhRP%20in,legally%20recognized%20and%20enforceable%20rights. ^
  10. Nonhuman Rights Project. “Litigation.” Nonhuman Rights Project, October 6, 2020. https://www.nonhumanrights.org/litigation/. ^
  11. Nonhuman Rights Project, December 30, 2020. https://www.nonhumanrights.org/. ^
  12. Nonhuman Rights Project. “Litigation.” Nonhuman Rights Project, October 6, 2020. https://www.nonhumanrights.org/litigation/. ^
  13. Nonhuman Rights Project. “Litigation.” Nonhuman Rights Project, October 6, 2020. https://www.nonhumanrights.org/litigation/. ^
  14. Peralta, Eyder. “Chimps Are People, Too? Lawsuit Will Test That Question.” NPR, December 3, 2013. https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2013/12/03/248343474/chimps-are-people-too-lawsuit-will-test-that-question. ^
  15. “Nonhuman Rights Project Aims to Grant Legal Personhood Status to Some Species.” MetroFocus. New York Public Media, May 13, 2020. https://www.thirteen.org/metrofocus/2014/05/nonhuman-rights-project-aims-to-grant-legal-personhood-status-to-some-species/. ^
  16. “Nonhuman Rights Project Aims to Grant Legal Personhood Status to Some Species.” MetroFocus. New York Public Media, May 13, 2020. https://www.thirteen.org/metrofocus/2014/05/nonhuman-rights-project-aims-to-grant-legal-personhood-status-to-some-species/. ^
  17. Davidson, Sean. “Chimps Are ‘Persons’ Too, Legal Activists Say. So Are Elephants | CBC News.” CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, May 27, 2015. https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/non-human-persons-animal-rights-get-legal-leg-up-1.3058148. ^
  18. “Clients: Hercules and Leo.” Nonhuman Rights Project, December 7, 2019. https://www.nonhumanrights.org/hercules-leo/. ^
  19. Stempel, Jonathan. “New York’s Top Court Refuses to Free Chimps from Cages.” Reuters. Thomson Reuters, May 8, 2018. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-new-york-chimpanzees-idUSKBN1I925W. ^
  20. “Clients: Beulah, Karen, and Minnie.” Nonhuman Rights Project, December 16, 2020. https://www.nonhumanrights.org/clients-beulah-karen-minnie/. ^
  21. “Client: Happy.” Nonhuman Rights Project, December 18, 2020. https://www.nonhumanrights.org/client-happy/. ^
  22. Grimm, David. “’Personhood’ Chimpanzees Returned to Owners, Ending Animal Rights Litigation.” Science Magazine, January 8, 2016. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/01/personhood-chimpanzees-returned-owners-ending-animal-rights-litigation. ^
  23. Bird, Walter. “Activists Rally for Animal Rights at Zoo and Fun Fair in Worcester.” Worcester Magazine, February 2, 2019. https://www.worcestermag.com/news/20190202/activists-rally-for-animal-rights-at-zoo-and-fun-fair-in-worcester. ^
  24. Moss, Donny. “Animal Rights Activists Protest Humane Society Board Member Sharon Lee Patrick over Animal Cruelty at Project Chimps.” Their Turn, October 23, 2020. https://theirturn.net/2020/10/23/humane-society-project-chimps-sharon-lee-patrick-hsus/. ^
  25. Moss, Donny. “Animal Rights Activists Protest Humane Society Board Member Sharon Lee Patrick over Animal Cruelty at Project Chimps.” Their Turn, October 23, 2020. https://theirturn.net/2020/10/23/humane-society-project-chimps-sharon-lee-patrick-hsus/. ^
  26. The Associated Press. “Massachusetts Bill Would Ban Use of Elephants, Lions in Traveling Circuses.” WWLP. WWLP, October 27, 2019. https://www.wwlp.com/news/massachusetts/massachusetts-bill-would-ban-use-of-elephants-lions-in-traveling-circuses/. ^
  27. “Legislation + Advocacy.” Nonhuman Rights Project, November 16, 2020. https://www.nonhumanrights.org/legislation-and-advocacy/. ^
  28. “Steven M. Wise.” Nonhuman Rights Project, December 3, 2018. https://www.nonhumanrights.org/people/steve-wise/. ^
  29. “Animal Rights, with Steven Wise.” UAB Barcelona, July 2011. https://www.uab.cat/web?cid=1096481466574&pagename=UABDivulga%2FPage%2FTemplatePageDetallArticleInvestigar¶m1=1311660744859. ^
  30. “Jane Goodall.” Nonhuman Rights Project, January 27, 2018. https://www.nonhumanrights.org/people/jane-goodall/. ^
  31. Diprose, Kirsten, and Matt Neal. “Jane Goodall Says Global Disregard for Nature Brought on Coronavirus Pandemic.” ABC News. ABC News, April 11, 2020. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-11/jane-goodall-says-disregard-for-nature-has-brought-coronavirus/12142246. ^
  32. Woods, Sean. “The Last Word: Jane Goodall on Fighting Sexism and What Chimpanzees Taught Her.” Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone, April 16, 2020. https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/jane-goodall-interview-last-word-968036/. ^
  33. Stewart, Ashleigh. “Dr Jane Goodall on Trump, Being Misquoted at Davos and Why Death Is Her ‘next Big Adventure’.” The National, February 6, 2020. https://www.thenational.ae/arts-culture/books/dr-jane-goodall-on-trump-being-misquoted-at-davos-and-why-death-is-her-next-big-adventure-1.974678.   ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Jane Goodall
    Board Member

Donor Organizations

  1. NoVo Foundation (Non-profit)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: April 1, 1996

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $1,072,353 $926,781 $1,296,071 $69,092 N $1,055,592 $0 $20,275 $199,500 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $1,048,594 $823,484 $1,107,541 $30,509 N $1,019,725 $0 $19,440 $203,600 PDF
    2015 Dec Form 990 $818,905 $670,879 $872,891 $5,754 N $818,825 $0 $80 $214,044 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $491,439 $383,732 $719,145 $34 N $458,294 $0 $7,648 $93,159 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $459,979 $293,788 $599,688 $4,154 N $468,684 $0 $25,987 $45,000 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $53,266 $71,279 $434,827 $5,484 N $17,544 $0 $12,365 $0 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990EZ $45,557 $13,750 $447,356 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Nonhuman Rights Project

    5195 NW 112TH TER
    CORAL SPRINGS, FL 33076-3002