David Zabel, Connecticut area counsel for the NhRP, offers some important facts about elephant intelligence:
[W]e know they have a sense of self, remember the past and plan for the future, engage in complex communication, show empathy, and mourn their dead. But their legal status as ‘things’ with no rights has remained exactly the same. What’s at stake here is the freedom of beings who are no less self-aware and autonomous than we humans are.
This isn’t the first time NhRP has attempted to win personhood rights for animals. In 2013, the group sued on behalf of a chimpanzee named Tommy, another named Kiko, and two former laboratory chimps named Hercules and Leo. But none of these New York cases succeeded in getting recognition of the chimps’ legal personhood.