Statement from the Bronx Zoo
Bronx Zoo, Feb. 19, 2020 – The Bronx Zoo issued a statement today in connection with a lawsuit filed against the zoo by the NonHuman Rights Project. The statement concerns a judge’s dismissal of a case against the zoo in which the judge finds the elephant at the Bronx Zoo, Happy, “is not a “person” and is not being illegally imprisoned.”
Said Jim Breheny, Director of the Bronx Zoo and EVP of Zoos & Aquarium at the Wildlife Conservation Society:
“We are pleased with the Bronx County Supreme Court’s decision today to dismiss the Nonhuman Rights Project’s petition. The court rejected NhRP’s ill-conceived attempt to have an elephant at the Bronx Zoo, Happy, declared a “person,” entitled to protection under the writ of habeas corpus. In doing so, the court supported the Bronx Zoo’s legal position and we believe this decision is in Happy’s best interests.
“This marks the 24th judge in New York to rule against NhRP as it attempts to advance its agenda to extend human protections to animals. In this case, NhRP tried to use the common law writ of habeas corpus, an important legal protection for unlawfully imprisoned human beings. NhRP’s continued failed attempts to grant habeas corpus to animals demeans all the people who have sought such relief.
“This is the fifth case NhRP has lost seeking legal personhood for animals.
“All four Departments of the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division have ruled against NhRP. Their repeated use of the legal system is wasteful and self-serving.
“The Bronx Zoo takes excellent care of Happy and will continue to do so, along with all animals here at the zoo. Her well-being is assured by our dedicated staff and all the expertise they bring in providing excellent care for her for more than 40 years.
“NhRP and the experts they recruited for their petition, none of whom ever had any direct contact with or knowledge of Happy, have exploited Happy and the name of the Bronx Zoo to further their misguided philosophical agenda and fund-raise for their cause. NhRP has no real regard for Happy as an individual. Though NhRP is on record in court documents stating they are not questioning Happy’s welfare, they consistently raise concerns about her welfare as a fundraising tool.
“From the beginning, the information perpetuated by NhRP about Happy has been inaccurate, misleading or simply false, and they knew it. In fact, Happy is not kept in isolation – she has contact with another elephant; Happy is not languishing; Happy is not kept indoors for half the year; Happy is well cared for by professionals with decades of experience.
“We have been consistent and transparent in telling people about Happy’s life at the Bronx Zoo.
“All decisions regarding the health and welfare of the animals at the Bronx Zoo will continue to be made by our animal care experts who know them best. At this time, the veterinarians, keepers, and curators at the Bronx Zoo believe it is best for Happy to remain in familiar surroundings with the people she knows, relies on and trusts. We continually assess Happy’s situation and will make decisions based on what is best for her as an individual.”