A chimpanzee is not entitled to the rights of a human and does not have to be freed by its owner, a New York appeals court ruled Thursday. The three-judge Appellate Division panel was unanimous in denying "legal personhood" to Tommy, who lives alone in a cage in upstate Fulton County. A trial level court had previously denied the Nonhuman Rights Project's effort to have Tommy released. The group's lawyer, Steven Wise, told the appeals court in October that the chimp's living conditions are akin to a person in unlawful solitary confinement. But the mid-level appeals court said there is no precedent for treating animals as persons and no legal basis. "So far as legal theory is concerned, a person is any being whom the law regards as capable of rights and duties," the judges wrote. Needless to say, unlike human beings, chimpanzees cannot bear any legal duties, submit to societal responsibilities or be held legally accountable for their actions." Tommy's owner, Patrick Lavery, said Thursday he was pleased and expected the ruling. Tommy, believed to be about 40 years old, is a former entertainment chimp who was placed with Lavery about 10 years ago. Lavery said Tommy is cared for under strict state and federal license rules and inspections.
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--- The Associated Press