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Court Decision Implies Possible Legal Personhood for Chimps (UPDATED)

The ruling could be a first step in establishing basic rights for sentient animals.

Photo by Thomas Lersch via Wikimedia Commons

Two chimpanzees named Hercules and Leo, both unwilling residents of a biomedical lab at Stony Brook University, have been given a chance at freedom—a court decision has granted a writ of habeas corpus to the primates, recognizing them, to an extent, as persons with rights. Habeas corpus is a specific legal application allowing a judge or court to free an imprisoned individual if there is no sufficient reason to keep them locked up. As the writ is only for people and not property, its use in this case implies de facto personhood for the pair. In Manhattan Supreme Court yesterday, Justice Barbara Jaffe issued a ruling that demanded a representative of Stony Brook show up for court on May 6 to defend the chimps’ detainment, reports Science magazine. If Stony Brook cannot come up with a good enough reason for keeping Hercules and Leo in captivity, they will be released to a chimpanzee sanctuary in Florida.

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Apes: They’re Just Like Us (When it Comes to Following Pointless Fads)

Research indicates primates may follow arbitrary trends, just like their more evolved cousins.

image via (cc) flickr user photogism

When it comes to following useless fads, we Homo Sapiens might not be the only game in town.

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Ebola’s Other Victims: One-Third of the World’s Gorillas and Chimpanzees

Some estimate that since the 1990s, Ebola has become the number one threat to great apes in Africa.

image via (cc) flickr user mape_s

While the headlines, and accompanying panic, may have subsided for many of us, the Ebola outbreak of 2014 remains one of the most horrific viral epidemics in recent memory. A January 2015 report by the World Health Organization places the number of fatalities at 8,641, with nearly three times that reportedly infected across West Africa. The degree to which life in and around the affected areas has been seismically disrupted is hard to most of us to fathom. It is an outbreak—the most recent of many—that in both scale and severity feels more akin to a war than a disease. But alongside the catastrophic human toll of Ebola’s rampage across West Africa is an alarming trend affecting our nearest genetic cousins: Gorillas and chimpanzees, which have reportedly lost a full one-third of their global populations to Ebola since the 1990s.

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What Inspires You: The Wildlife Videographer

An acclaimed filmmaker and videographer, Bill Wallauer has spent 20 years documenting chimps in the wild. See what inspires his work.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZVFYhjKpuA;

This post is in partnership with Disneynature's Chimpanzee, on Disney Blu-ray Combo Pack & HD Digital August 21

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Intermission: Chimps, Humans, and the Trait of Kindness

There are many similarities between us and our closest animal relatives, but this one may surprise you.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RK8rKKp-vP0

Humans and chimpanzees share 96 percent of their genetic code, but perhaps our most remarkable similarity is a personality trait that sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom: altruism.

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