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Does the New York Zoo elephant have human rights?  The State Supreme Court will decide

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A court will decide on Wednesday whether an elephant can be a person.

Happy the Elephant, a resident of New York’s Bronx Zoo, is being considered for release by the state’s highest court. Happy, 51, has lived in the zoo since 1977. However, an animal rights group launched a coordinated campaign to free her in 2018, declaring Happy eligible for “person’s rights” under the law of New York.

“Kept in isolation, the elephants are bored, depressed, aggressive, catatonic and fail to thrive,” wrote Nonhuman Rights Project. “Human caregivers are no substitute for the many complex social relationships and rich exchanges of gestural and vocal communication that occur between free-living elephants.”


While lower courts have repeatedly upheld the ruling that Happy is not a “person”, Nonhuman Rights Project hopes the higher court will overturn the ruling.

Nonhuman Rights Project launched its efforts to free Happy four years ago with a petition for a common law writ habeas corpus. The petition called for the state to recognize Happy as a corporation with all the rights associated with the designation.

Protesters are particularly concerned about Happy’s social health, saying keeping the elephant alone in its enclosure is detrimental to his health.

“The Bronx Zoo has been given the shameful title of the 5th worst elephant zoo in the nation,” the PNR continues in an online petition. “The New York Times calls Happy the loneliest elephant in the Bronx Zoo. That’s because this highly intelligent and social being is one of the only zoo elephants in all of the United States to be kept alone. And it looks like his living conditions won’t change anytime soon unless we do something about it.”

Happy originally had two companions – named Grumpy and Sammie – but both died over the decades. Grumpy died of injuries sustained by other elephants.


Elephants are a widely revered animal due to their intelligence, unique abilities, and rarity. They hold a special place of respect in many cultures.

Elephants at one Thai garden were served a giant fruit and vegetable buffet in March on National Elephant Day.

Almost 60 of the herbivores mammals at Nong Nooch Tropical Garden in Thailand’s eastern province of Chonburi, was able to enjoy a two-tonne spread on a 26.2-foot table, Reuters reported.

Ktampon Tansacha, the president of the garden, told the news agency that his elephants like to eat bananas.

Fox News’ Cortney Moore contributed to this report.

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