The Chicken Economy

  • Written by  Steve Hinchliffe
  • Published in Opinions
The Chicken EconomyBukhanovskyy

2017 is the Chinese year of the chicken. This year, the best estimate suggests a record 94 million tonnes of chicken meat will be produced

That’s roughly 52 billion chickens. In the last 50 years, chicken has moved from being a rare food item, too perishable to mass market, to a staple of protein-rich (and low-fat) diets for a growing human population. But it’s not just the numbers that have altered. In the UK, supermarkets have led the field in changing the ways in which chickens are farmed and processed. Agricultural science and military-style logistics have converted a supplementary source of farm income into a highly organised, vertically-integrated industry.

Chickens are now reared under optimal conditions for economic profit and biological growth. High throughput of densely housed and specifically bred birds increase turnover (or the rate at which fully-grown chickens can be sold for meat). The result is a high-volume, low-margin industry, where the profit on each chicken is small but the real money is to be made in developing market share and volume.

Chickens now reach market at almost twice their previous slaughter weight. More astonishingly, improved housing, the use of enriched feeds and growth-promoting antibiotics mean they reach these new weights in half the time; less than 45 days to grow to market weight (sometimes only 38 days). An average poultry farm now houses several hundred thousand birds, arranged in sheds with 30,000 or so in each, all ‘growing’ in a tightly choreographed system to an established end, when they are ‘harvested’, transported and processed to reach supermarket shelves on time and at the correct price. Industry vets say the birds go through the process like ‘race-horses’.

This is an economic model (pile it high, sell it cheap while tuning biological processes to work as hard as possible at the lathe of production) that some say is symptomatic of our age. The journalist Felicity Lawrence suggests the chicken ‘is one of the defining commodities of our era… the sugar, tea and opium of the age.’ If Henry Ford and his motor cars defined the early 20th century, then the chicken and the often casual labour used to harvest and process its meat, Lawrence has suggested, defines our current times. These times can be characterised by global supply chains, precarious labour conditions, and biological stress.

platformAn average poultry farm now houses several hundred thousand birds, arranged in sheds with 30,000 or so in each (Image: Guitar photographer)

This year is also a year of seemingly unprecedented incidences of bird flu. By the middle of January there had been nearly 650 outbreaks of a deadly and virulent form in Europe, involving more than 200,000 cases. This European strain is currently thought not to be dangerous to people. But in China, another strain was, and has this year reached new levels of infection and mortality. The concern is that this may spread globally. By virtue of its ability to adapt, avian flu is known as a ‘potential pandemic pathogen’.

Standard explanations for the increased incidences of bird flu include failures in something called biosecurity. Disease experts often focus on the site of an outbreak. Those farms that allow poultry to mix with wild birds, or places such as live bird markets (particularly in parts of Asia where there is insufficient hygiene), are often blamed for disease spread. These may well be important points for contagion. Yet, there is another pressing question to ask: are the intensively raised, factory-farmed birds that make up the bulk of the 52 billion killed annually also part of the problem? When you add so many birds to the world’s biomass, all growing at rates and in conditions that change their immune responses, then it seems logical that you have changed the conditions for disease. Perhaps instead of sites, we need to focus on this global disease situation?

The evidence for this shift of attention is starting to emerge. First of all, it is important to say that all farms and forms of production involve plenty of opportunity for microbes, like the avian influenza virus, to circulate. Viruses can move with stock, pests, and with staff. The teams that often move from farm to farm to harvest poultry ‘crops’ may be a particular risk. Second, densely farmed birds may be more infectable. Immune systems are compromised at such growth rates, and once the virus is in a flock, it is clearly going to spread with impunity. Third, there is evidence that this avian biomass is altering the genetic make up of the viruses. In evolutionary terms, if you change a microbe’s environment, you are also going to provide the conditions for changing the microbe. Microbes evolve rapidly, and bird flu viruses are known to be particularly promiscuous, adapting quickly to hosts and so on. The raw material for the flu viruses has increased in number and availability as global production has expanded. The microbes are getting better at taking advantage.

Modernising agriculture is clearly of benefit to a world that needs to eat, and eat safely. And yet, we need to be wary of those tipping points at which the gains of modernisation start to backfire. As I write, the international restaurant chain Chipotle, which uses 64,000 tonnes of chicken meat annually, has announced that it is abandoning fast-growing chickens. Driven by food safety concerns and evidence that slower growth results in less disease, we may be seeing the start of a  crucial shift. The health costs of cheap meat may now be tipping the balance. Redressing that would make this year of the chicken one that could be good for all of us.

Karmic Disaster: Dead Meat as Gastronomic and Economic Sustenance

An Animal Rights Article from


John R. Hall, The
April 2017

A nation of zombies feeds on the flesh of dead animals, salutes, pledges allegiance to, and sings the patriotic songs of the Empire which spreads death and destruction worldwide. Few have noticed Bad Karma nibbling away at their sorry asses. Few have noticed the Fall of Empire in progress. Their national borders are prison bars, their economy in shambles, their hopes and dreams gone. When it comes to neighbors, love has been replaced by fear. More firearms than humans populate the land…

sue coe
By Sue Coe, the world’s foremost political artist focusing on humanity’s tyranny over non-human creatures.

Hindu scriptures teach that anyone who kills or causes harm to other sentient beings is in for a big dose of Bad Karma as a result. The shit can hit the fan in this lifetime or in some future reincarnation, but it will happen. Not that I personally subscribe to Hinduism or any other religion, but I do believe that there’s a large dose of merit in their world view. A lot can be said for lifestyles which involve veganism and peaceful coexistence with our fellow beings. Stray from the path, commit the crime, and you’ll eventually do the time. Like the Hindus, we’ll define “sentient beings” as including (most) humans, all other creatures with eyes and mothers, and most importantly Mother Earth herself; for she’s borne the brunt of harm caused by her thoughtless, careless, greedy human children.

Dead meat is the fuel that powers Empire, and the resulting karmic disaster now bites all its citizens in the ass in oh so many ways. We’ve been told since birth that we need to kill and consume cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, sheep, goats, rabbits, and/or squirrels, to maintain a necessary level of protein in our diets. Whack ’em, gut ’em, skin ’em, cook ’em (optional), and eat ’em. We’ve also been instructed to drink the milk meant for calves, in its many forms, and to ingest the embryos of large birds. If you are a believer in the studies and lifework of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, or are even mildly observant, you understand that your morbidly obese friends and neighbors (or you) are dying prematurely from meat/dairy/egg-intensive diets, in ever-increasing numbers. Heart/coronary artery disease, cancers, diabetes, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and untold other karmic paybacks are their rewards for either directly killing animals or buying their dead flesh from Safeway’s meat case, and consuming it. If Dr. Esselstyn is correct, by the time the average meat-consuming high school graduate in The U.S.A. accepts his diploma, coronary artery disease is already ravaging his body.

Dead meat is the fuel that powers Empire. War is its business, and fast becoming its only business. Bombs, bullets, missiles, rockets, warships, and warplanes are its preferred delivery methods. Its young people are lured into the bloody, tangled web of death and destruction by slick-huckster, pseudo-patriotic, U.S. Military-glorifying advertising schemes. The lucky do their time, emerging with bodies largely intact, suffering only a lifetime of residual mental anguish and PTSD, souls stolen away, brains scrambled, expressionless, and aimless, demented, self-doubting heroes to the masses who cheerlead Empire’s wars. Warfare for profit drives the stock markets. In my lifetime alone: A few million dead Koreans, a few million dead Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians, a few million dead Afghans, Iraqis, Libyans, and Syrians, and the market values of Boeing, Exxon-Mobil, Raytheon, Halliburton, Monsanto, and Northrop Grumman soar. Billionaires, corporate executives, bankers, and politicians rake in the blood money. Combat boots leave their marks upon the faces of dead populations across the globe, as the looming shadow of Bad Karma darkens the land.

Dead meat, the fuel that powers Empire, brings a tear to the eye of Mother Earth. Mega-corporate meat-growing mass-execution operations grow sentient mammals and birds in immobile squalor, pumping them full of antibiotics and growth hormones, raping (force-breeding) them, stealing their progeny and milk, unceremoniously slaughtering them, and feeding them to the masses of sick, mindless, obese humans. Filling the atmosphere with the stench of uncontained defecation and urination, and contributing more greenhouse gas emissions than all other sources combined. Crops feeding death-row, USDA-inspected, four-legged or feathered prisoners consume more water in Empire than all other uses combined, both domestic and agricultural, not to mention the associated, indiscriminate use of toxic soil-killing herbicides and pesticides connected with corporate agriculture.

Dead meat. Populations of third world countries cry out for food and drinking water, but receive bombs instead. Citizens unfortunate enough to live in oil-rich lands yearn for basic needs, but find themselves to be testing grounds for Empire’s newest, state-of-the-art WMD’s. But who needs rice when you can have depleted uranium? Countries ravaged, war’s ultimate goal; death, destruction, chaos. Dead meat litters broken countrysides. Empire’s exceptional citizens stuff their fat faces full of dead meat. They watch in awestruck approval the fireworks of death, in countries they can’t find on a map, on their favorite corporate “news” channels. Meat; it’s what’s for dinner. Meat; it’s what you become if you’re not in sync with Empire’s agenda. Meat; it’s what all sentient beings are, in the eyes of those who push the buttons and pull Empire’s strings. Resources to be harvested. Meat.

sue coe
By Sue Coe, the world’s foremost political artist focusing on humanity’s tyranny over non-human creatures.

The U.S.A. is now ground zero for karmic disaster. A nation of zombies feeds on the flesh of dead animals, salutes, pledges allegiance to, and sings the patriotic songs of the Empire which spreads death and destruction worldwide. Few have noticed Bad Karma nibbling away at their sorry asses. Few have noticed the Fall of Empire in progress. Their national borders are prison bars, their economy in shambles, their hopes and dreams gone. When it comes to neighbors, love has been replaced by fear. More firearms than humans populate the land. Pawnshops and porn stores offer temporary solace from wretched lives of impending poverty and loveless relationships with despised partners. Self-loathing zombies cover their bodies, head to toe, with senseless colorful graffiti, squalor of the skin, ill-conceived epidermal etchings. Drug and alcohol addiction run rampant. Hungry, homeless, hopeless people beg on every street corner, while others turn a blind eye. The Police State grows like a malignant tumor across the land, but soulless faces buried in miniature electronics fail to pay heed.

It would be easy to end this sordid little piece on a hopeless note, for Empire’s apparent future appears to hold little in the way of hope. If only there was someone who might have a chance of gaining enough power to turn things around, end constant warfare for profit, and bring a degree of sanity to The U.S.A. before Bad Karma brings the wrath of the rest of the world down upon us in a big and final way. Someone who would have the huevos to run for and be elected POTUS, buck the power of The C.I.A., The U.S. Military, the neocon/neolib war consortium, and Wall Street. A John F. Kennedy reincarnate. Maybe a disillusioned combat veteran who’s also a beautiful, well-spoken, and fearless U.S. Congresswoman from Hawaii. Someone who’s travelled to Syria (with Dennis Kucinich), spoken with President Assad, doubts that he was responsible for the sarin gassing of his people, and would be extremely hesitant to EVER AGAIN start another war. How about a lifelong vegetarian Hindu? President Tulsi Gabbard….hmmm. We can only hope and dream. Karmic disaster is imminent as our karmic debt comes due, but there may yet be time to bury Empire and save The U.S.A. Hope springs eternal.

The Greanville Post Senior Contributing Editor, John R. Hall is a street-trained agnotologist with an advanced degree in American Ignorance. Other hats include: photojournalist, novelist, restaurateur, mountaineer, grocer, nurseryman, and janitor. He’s written three novels which have been read by almost nobody: Embracing Darwin, Last Dance in Lubberland, and Atlas fumbled. An untrained writer and college drop-out, he began his short career in journalism writing the ‘Excursion’ column for The Jackson Hole News & Guide. More recently he penned the ‘Left Column’ for The Molokai Island Times; appropriately on the island once known as a leper colony. John currently resides, writes, and protests injustice in the shadow of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and walks among the spirits of those who once occupied the 79 Disappeared Pueblos.

All of us with compassion

No automatic alt text available.

“For as long as i can breath i will fight for the animals…
The day i stop breathing, on my final breath i will feel sadness, that i can fight no more.
Yet elated that i am freed from this living hell that all of us with compassion have to witness on a daily basis, created by fellow humans that i am ashamed to be connected with.~ X”

The Animals’ Vegan Manifesto

 By Sue Coe
From Book, CD and Video Review Guide

The intent of this book and video review guide is to help us to live according to Kingdom standards which bring Heaven to earth.

Author: Sue Coe,
Reviewed by: Heidi Stephenson

Sue Coe

The Animals’ Vegan Manifesto By Sue Coe
Available from OR Books


“We are the Nazis, there is no escaping it. Nazi is a condition of humanity.”

Animal exploitation, killing and abuse is at an all-time high and the suffering we humans inflict so sickening, so shocking, so painful to bear witness so that the majority turn away from the activist photographs which shine a light on this darkness, in horror begging: “Don’t tell me. Don’t tell me, I don’t want to know.” But Sue Coe’s clever political art gets right in, under the radar. She unlocks hearts like no other and forces the wilfully blind to see. Doing what art does when it’s at its best, inspired, courageous and just about bearable, she shatters our complacency with her vivid, evocative empathy, her highly memorable compassion. Sue Coe tells it as it is, from the animals’ point of view, in sharp, black and white woodcuts. She emblazons the need for change on our reluctant, human consciousness. She dreams the dream of a humane, vegan world, Martin Luther King-style.

This is a book in two parts. The reality of our man-made Death cult in which a slaughterman can pitch-fork a living baby piglet, a human fist can hover menacingly over a newborn male chick, ready to smash him into non-existence and a baby lamb can so casually be turned into so much minced meat, is presented with an uncompromising commitment to the terrible truth. God-given lives are Satanically alchemized into meaningless bags of money, by a gang of greedy men. Lobsters are boiled alive by indifferent chefs. We witness the terror of a cow being forced into the abattoir while her desperate calf tries to cling to her. We see (and our imaginations hear) the hysterical weeping, leaping and screaming, the terrible grief of some sows as they watch helplessly as one of their youngsters is stunned in preparation for his imminent murder. Organic, free range, crate free “Happy Meat” is shown to be anything but. While we eat, drink and continue to be merry, the animals die. A couple sit, wine in  hand, over yet another roast dinner – surrounded by the spirits of all the animals whose lives they have directly taken (over 11,000 per person, per lifetime, according to VIVA! figures).

Animal suffering – emotional as well as physical – is given full vent. We witness the abject misery, the highly conscious teardrops of a trapped, ‘battery’ hen, of a grief-stricken cow in the presence of her murdered calf; the depression, profound pain (and grave sense of injustice) of an innocent pig locked inside the dark hell of his ‘prison cell.’ Lions weep in their cages; elephants are literally brought to their knees in heavy ‘circus’ chains. In a bleak landscape, filled only with dark, ominous tower blocks and dead tree stumps, a lone wolf is trapped in agony, his front leg gripped by a deathly leg-hold trap. A crying angel comforts a bleeding goose whose feathers have been excruciatingly ripped out through live plucking. A ewe hugs her lamb-child with such tenderness against the terrifying backdrop of a missile attack: a bleak reminder that human bombs rain down on animals too. Genetic mutations, vivisection, the gassing of unwanted animals, Sue Coe does not leave a single tombstone unturned.

The Animals’ Vegan Manifesto also shows us the madness of it all: the two-faced, Janus heads of Man who with one arm affectionately strokes his dog, while with the other he stabs a baby lamb in the throat with a knife. Men devour platefuls of meat, while a Third World child starves to death. An autocratic father force-feeds his baby with a young piglet, creating the seeds of his own child’s premature demise. Another man devours two, huge turkey legs – and with them pus, salmonella, e-coli, and an early grave.

In part two, the tide finally, mercifully turns and we are shown what could be – what will ultimately be. Sue Coe has a Martin Luther King-scale Dream. There is love in the skies, in the heavens; animal angels are shown to be the guiding stars of their animal brethren. There is hope. And there is liberation. On pages 57 and 58 a cow cuts through the barbed wire of some hell-hole of a farm under a bright moon. Her act is deliberate and conscious, and we know that it will ultimately be effective. On page 63 a goat does the same. On pages 74 and 75 two brave pigs follow suit. Chains are broken, and the animals, literally, see the Light.

There are human cries too, vegan cries for “Freedom! Peace! Justice! Stop Violence!” The vegans become far greater in number, unwilling to participate any longer in the meat industry’s blood money scam. A thin, but determined donkey walks through the night towards a new Vegan World which is only 155 miles away. Other animals find the path too and begin to pursue it hopefully; they carry a V banner above them.

An Isaian world begins to manifest: a mule embraces a dog, a cow and a pig write a new law: “Eat veg, not us,” another cow scours The Vegan News for inspiration, and the animals unite in a common mission for love and unity. They help each other – and they find their freedom again. They share a vegan meal together, and they sleep soundly in the protective care of each other. A bat heralds rebirth and more Good News. The bears enjoy their tree tops again; bucks and fawns leap for joy, fish dance in ponds.

Shooting stars break out in the night skies as a choir of wolves sing to the new world; butterfly and grasshopper exchange flowers, a sunflowers bursts into fullest bloom. A woman holds a calf in her arms, expressing her deepest, motherly/sisterly love, clearly mourning all the terror, pain and violent death which man has inflicted on the animals for so long. There is great rejoicing as the world finally becomes vegan. Miraculously, a hardened scientist breaks out of his own man-made cage – and stretches out to embrace the animals, while a cockerel heralds a new vegan dawn.

Sue Coe grew up next to a slaughterhouse in Liverpool. In The Animals’ Vegan Manifesto she conveys the most important message of our times, about the last, most terrible, most prolonged, mass slavery and life-engulfing genocide the world has ever known. There is great love in these pages and her vision is Biblical in its moving magnificence. She has done what a thousand words from a thousand writers have failed to do.  She is a true prophet of our times – and her book is essential reading. If you buy just one book this year, let it be this one.

animals’ vegan manifesto
to 2 leggeds

1 close all slaughterhouses
2 the seas are salty with our tears,
leave us alone
3 turn all farmprisons into sanctuaries
4 we want to fly away
5 stop stealing our eggs
6 don’t take our lambs, or coats

from all of us, of fur, fin and feather
eat plants, not us, thankyou.

About the Author:

Sue Coe is a keen observer, a ‘graphic witness’ to realities more often overlooked or avoided. She is a journalist who uses printed images in preference to words. For a quarter century she has explored factory farming, meat packing, aparteid, sweat shops, prisons, AIDS, and most recently, war. Her commentary on political events and social injustice is published in newspapers, magazines and books. The results of her investigations are hung in museum and gallery exhibitions and form an essential part of personal fine print collections by artists and activists alike. Coe paintings and prints are auctioned as fund raisers for a variety of progressive causes, and since 1998, she has sold prints here to benefit animal rights.

International Respect for Chickens Day One Month from Today – May 4, 2017!

Chickens Ruby and Ivy.
For merchandise, posters and brochures, please visit our online store.

Please join us at the White House for UPC’s International Respect for Chickens Day/Month of May Public Outreach Event! We provide brochures, posters & banners – all we need is YOU!

When: Sunday May 7 Noon – 3:00pm
Where: Lafayette Park across from the White House at Pennsylvania Avenue
Why: Stick Up For Chickens!

For more information visit:
International Respect for Chickens Day

Karen and Liqin holding a 'International Respect for Chickens Month' banner by the White House.

MAY 7, 2017

Leafleting at the White House for International Respect for Chickens Day

Hosted by United Poultry Concerns


Thank you for taking action!

Trump repeals Alaskan bear hunting regs

Trump repeals Alaskan bear hunting regs
© Getty Images

President Trump rolled back a trio of regulations Monday, including protections for hibernating bears in Alaska.

The Obama-era rule from the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) prohibited certain hunting tactics that target “predator” animals likes bears and wolves while they are inside Alaska’s national preserves. This included a ban on hunters using airplanes.

Trump overturned the rule Monday, handing control of the hunting regulations over to Alaska state officials who have shown an eagerness to control predator populations as a way to protect other animals such as deer. But animal rights activists say this will open the door to hunters snatching hibernating bears and wolves out of their dens, or even killing them in front of their cubs.

The president also rolled back the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Internet privacy rules and the Labor Department’s workplace protections that required companies to report injuries and illnesses that occur on the job.

Vegan Lifestyle Becoming More Common

 A vegan diet used to be a foreign concept for the regular American in a regular household. It was more of the lifestyle someone who decided to move to the woods and be in hiatus  of the world would adapt. However, the picture has changed over the years.

And now a change of diet may be absolutely necessary in protecting the planet from Greenhouse Emissions causing global warming, according to some experts.

Vegans now have countless food options and information available. Restaurants often have at least a vegan section and there is even vegan options for products other than food. It is fairly easy to have a full and healthy vegan lifestyle today.

But what does it mean to be vegan? And why would someone chose this lifestyle?

According to PETA, “a vegan (strict vegetarian) does not consume meat, diary products, eggs, honey or any product delivered from an animal.” This includes food, clothing, furniture, personal care and house hold items, and everything in between. Unlike a vegetarian, a vegan lifestyle goes beyond food. Every product used and/or purchases as well as any activity one takes part in, should not come from, be made out of, tested on or jeopardize an animal life.

For years, it has been assumed that diary, meat and eggs are the main sources of protein, but it turns out it is just a marketing strategy, for there are significant amounts of protein in other foods. An adult or depleting child can get all the nutrients and protein they need from a plant base diet, while maintaining good health.

According to Harvard University, vegans have a lower risk of suffering of heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes. It has also be proved to help with weight loss and an overall healthier lifestyle.

Another huge reason to become a vegan is living a sustainable lifestyle and helping to reduce climate change. According to the world watch institute, “Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (C02) per year, or 51 percent of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.

Methane, water vapor, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide are some of the gases that contribute to the Greenhouse Effect.Many skeptics have been critical that that big environmental agencies, who exist for the protection of the one and only planet humans have, do not fully accept this theory on climate change.

Using less water and oil, recycling, being counties of energy used help as well, but the biggest impact can be made by switching to a vegan lifestyle. According to World Watch,  “Even without fossil fuels, we will exceed out 565 cigatonnes C02E limit by 2030, all from raising animals.”

Some feel that the planet has been so deeply damaged that baby steps won’t work, and a bigger change is needed to save the planet. Helping the environment is not only a choice everyone benefits from but also future generations. Regardless of nationality, humans share the same air and space. It is beyond personal choices. One’s reckless and careless choices can directly impact many others.

According to “Conspiracy” the infamous documentary on this issue, “A person who follows a vegan diet produces the equivalent of 50 percent less carbon dioxide, uses 1/11th oil, 1/12th water, 1/18th land compared to a meat eater and saves one animal’s life a day.” One person’s choices have a huge impact on the resources that could potentially be wasted on a product that is not necessary for human life or wellbeing.

The question is, can college students have a vegan lifestyle on a realistic budget?

The answer is yes, just as any other student trying to save money; it’s all about being smart with spending and money in general.

Being vegan doesn’t necessarily mean shopping at expensive organic supermarkets and spending a lot on money on food. Just be informed and learn how to read labels. It is probable that a portion of one’s diet is already vegan, so it doesn’t have to be such a drastic change.

Most restaurants offer a vegan section, and there are even entirely vegan restaurants now. There are numerous food choices.

As far as clothing and households items, it simply takes some research. Most brands now would include the word “vegan” on the packaging as well.

For residents, the cafeterias offer some vegan; options, however, are limited.

Annabella Alvarado, a Vet Tech major and a sophomore, says “I became a vegan once I realized the impact factory farming has on our environment. Mercy offers vegan/vegetarian options everyday, but what I did was change my meal plan to all dining dollars and that allows me to set up my own meals.”

There are also restaurants close to campus, like “Tomatillo” or “Mix on Main” with affordable vegan options as well, ranging from about $7 to $20. It is also easy to customize meals at restaurants to make them vegan.

Amy Morales, a Music Technology major and a senior, says “I gave up meat about two years ago just to try it out; after a month I really liked how my body felt. I feel a lot healthier now.”

Whether it is because of the health benefits, morals, or because your want to live a more sustainable life and help the planet, veganism is a life style worth considering.

Chimpanzees are animals. But are they ‘persons’?

March 16

The appellate division of the New York Supreme Court will hear arguments Thursday on behalf of two captive plaintiffs — both of them chimpanzees.

Their self-appointed attorney, the crusading animal-rights lawyer Steven Wise, will once again be making the case that U.S. law should not consider the apes things, but rather “legal persons” that have a right to bodily liberty.

It’s an argument that, if successful, could lead to revolutionary changes in legal status for animals. But it’s one that has so far failed to convince judges.

The chimps in question at this week’s hearing are Tommy and Kiko, both of which are held by private owners in New York, according to Wise’s group, the Nonhuman Rights Project. In a bid to persuade courts to recognize the animals as “legal persons,” the group has filed writs of habeas corpus, which would allow the chimps to challenge the legality of their detention in court. Any court that granted such a writ would be acknowledging the ape’s legal “personhood” — and right to be free.

Courts have already granted personhood to other non-humans, which is not the same as declaring them people, Wise often notes. Corporations can be legal persons, as can ships. On Wednesday, New Zealand’s parliament officially recognized the Whanganui River as a legal person. And so far, courts have been willing to at least listen to Wise’s arguments on behalf of chimps, if not rule in their favor.

Despite the defeats, Wise said he was encouraged by a 2015 state Supreme Court ruling that rejected his group’s arguments but called the quest “understandable” and acknowledged that the definition of legal personhood has evolved over time. But the judge in that case said she was bound by a higher court’s previous ruling that chimpanzees could not be granted legal rights because they’re unable to bear “legal responsibilities and societal duties.”

Wise says that’s wrong for a couple of reasons that he plans to present on Thursday. First, he said, he’ll argue that legal personhood does not require the ability to assume duties or responsibilities — children cannot do so, for example, nor can some Alzheimer’s patients.

“No other court has said you have to have the capacity to assume duties and responsibilities in order to be a legal person and have rights,” Wise said. “In fact, millions of people in the state of New York can’t assume duties and responsibilities. But I assure you they aren’t legal things.”

If that argument doesn’t work, Wise says he has a backup: Sixty pages of affidavits from six experts on the behavior and cognition of chimpanzees, including the famous primatologist Jane Goodall. They present evidence that these highly intelligent animals can — and do — assume duties and responsibilities in their own societies and in chimp-human “societies” created for research purposes.

What “patient-first” care really looks like
Empathy is the guiding principle behind the entire patient experience at Cleveland Clinic’s new Cancer Center. Take a tour.


“They just give example after example,” Wise said of the affidavits. “For example, when a chimpanzee band crosses a road, a male will go to the front and another male will go to the back and allow others to cross. And when they engage in hunts, they each have separate duties. They each have to do their job.”

But, unlike most humans, chimps clearly can’t be held accountable for not doing their societal duties, which is one reason some legal scholars reject Wise’s argument. Critics also warn of a slippery slope that could theoretically lead to the prohibition of all pet-keeping.

Wise said the goal at this point is to get Tommy and Kiko sent to a sanctuary — an outcome that, so far, New York courts have not come close to letting happen. (It did happen recently in Argentina, where a judge ruled that a chimpanzee named Cecilia had “non-human rights” and must be transferred from the zoo where she lived to a sanctuary.)

But the Nonhuman Rights Project has plans to see if other American states’ courts might be more open to the idea. Wise said the group is preparing a case on behalf of an elephant in a state that is not New York, eyeing the case of some chimpanzees in California and “looking very closely” at orcas owned by SeaWorld.

Read more:

These chimps helped save human lives. Then they were abandoned.

DNA evidence helps free a service dog from death row

A proposal to bring back grizzlies just got a funny boost

Today’s Animal Rights Headlines

‘Horrific’: Animal rights groups slam Norway for killing pregnant whales
“Animal rights groups have slammed Norway for slaughtering pregnant
whales, calling it “even more unacceptable” as they carry the next
generation of the mammals. The criticism follows a new documentary
featuring the murder of female whales carrying a fetus.
“The documentary film dubbed ‘The Battle of Agony’, about the killing
of pregnant whales, was released on NRK, a public television network,
earlier in March.
““The majority of common minke whales caught in Norway have a fetus in
their bellies,” the film said.”

Seafood company convicted of animal cruelty for improperly killing lobster
“The Nicholas Seafoods company of Sydney, Australia, is in hot water
with an animal rights group for causing “immense pain” to one of its
“Australia’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
(RSPCA) reportedly observed workers from Nicholas butchering lobsters
with a band saw, before properly stunning or killing the crustaceans,
reports The Guardian.”

Animal rights protest shuts down major CBD intersection
“About 600 protesters demanding the closure of Australian
slaughterhouses have shut down a major intersection in the CBD.
“The rally, organised by Animal Liberation Victoria, began on the
steps of Parliament House about midday on Saturday, before hundreds
marched down Bourke Street to occupy the intersection at Swanston

Berkeley animal rights activist faces federal charges
“A Berkeley resident and animal rights activist is facing federal
charges for allegedly entering a restricted area at a Bernie Sanders
rally in Modesto on June 2.
“The federal government alleged in a criminal complaint last month
that Paul Picklesimer, a member of the animal rights group Direct
Action Everywhere, boosted another activist into a sanctioned-off area
in front of the stage at the Sanders’ rally and then entered the area
himself. He is facing up to a year in jail or a fine of $100,000.”