Help Free Captive Chimpanzee Tommy

Guest post by the Nonhuman Rights Project

His name is Tommy, and we found him in a small cage in a dark barn at a used-trailer lot. Tommy was living in “dungeon like” conditions — solitary confinement, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

What had he done wrong? Nothing. Tommy was born a chimpanzee.

The Problem

Chimpanzees like Tommy are self-aware beings who possess deep emotions, live in close-knit societies, use sophisticated communication, solve difficult problems, and mourn the loss of their loved ones. Just like us humans.

But the law still considers Tommy to be a piece of property – a ”thing.” As such, he has no legal rights. And the horrendous way he’s being treated is quite legal.

Chimpanzees like Tommy, and other self-aware, autonomous animals, can still be kidnapped from the wild, subjected to painful experimentation, exploited for entertainment, and treated like objects for mere amusement or profit.

And while the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that even corporations are entitled to certain legal rights, Tommy has no more rights than a pair of tennis shoes.

While there are many “animal rights” organization, to this day the only animal with any legal rights at all is the human animal. And to this day, no one has ever demanded a legal right for a nonhuman animal like Tommy in a court of law. Until now.

Enter the Nonhuman Rights Project – the first and only organization working to secure real legal rights for animals like Tommy.

Nearly 30 years ago, I began laying the groundwork for a bold, new and innovative legal strategy on behalf of these animals. Our team just argued before an appellate court in New York that, based on existing scientific evidence, Tommy is entitled to the legal right of bodily liberty.

This is the first time anything like this has transpired in a courtroom. It’s a landmark case and a legal milestone – a historic and unprecedented lawsuit that has the potential to reach far beyond just Tommy.

Bottom line: we believe chimpanzees like Tommy belong in a sanctuary, not in a cage, not in a laboratory, and not in a circus!

Our all-star legal team of attorneys has delved into more than a dozen areas of the law, analyzing over 60 kinds of legal issues across all 50 states. And this fight is winnable.

You Can Help Us

But the Nonhuman Rights Project has some powerful enemies who don’t like what we’re doing. Experimentation laboratories, zoos, circuses and other animal abuse industries will do whatever it takes to preserve the status quo.

None of that will stop us. In just over a month, another appellate court will hear the case of Kiko, a chimpanzee who’s being kept as a pet with a chain around his neck. And we have a third case in motion regarding Hercules and Leo, who are being used in experiments at Stony Brook University.

Please sign our petition demanding freedom for Tommy and his friends. With your help, we can set historic precedents that can bring an end to chimpanzees being held in captivity.

We’ll see you in court!

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven4 years ago

thanks for the article.

Mandy H.
Mandy H4 years ago

Petition signed. However it should be mentioned that many lawyers have brought legal action against cruelty for the animals that have suffered. There are also lots of people who are trying to get dolphins and whales recognised as non-human persons.

Alexandra G.
Alexandra G4 years ago

petition signed, thanks

Angev GERIDONI4 years ago

PETROPOLIS : now you can help the sanctuary that is home to farm animals, victims of exploitation, of abuse, and all kinds of cruelty. Some comes from Pétropolis some from other places around this city. Today there are 150 lucky animals, please give, for keeping them and to rescue other ones : ♥ Fairy sanctuary - or - ♥ Doe

Thank you for sharing

Angev GERIDONI4 years ago

For the horses and goats from PETROPOLIS please sign the petitions :
Care 2 - and - ♞
To see more : misfed. - Rip - Rip - misfed - Rip


Jonathan Harper
Jonathan Harper4 years ago


Pat P.
Pat P4 years ago

The Non-Human Rights Project, of Stephen Wise, must be successful. Tommy must be freed.

The sooner we demonstrate compassion, respect and empathy for our fellow animal species, the sooner we save the human race from self-destruction.

Vesper B.
Vesper B4 years ago


Ruhee B.
Ruhee B4 years ago

Petition signed previously. Hope Tommy and the others will be rescued quick.

Lisbeth Alvarado Sanchez

Petition Signed. Animals are not commodities or things. They are intelligent sentient beings who deserve our respect and protection.