The effort to free “Happy” the elephant from the Bronx Zoo has hit another legal road block

New York’s top court has ruled that “Happy” does not meet the definition of a “person” who is illegally confined.

The Associated Press reports the 5-to-2 decision by the state Court of Appeals today affirms an earlier court decision and means “Happy” will not be released through a habeas corpus proceeding.


The AP says the majority decision written by Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said that “while no one disputes that elephants are intelligent beings deserving of proper care and compassion,” a writ of habeas corpus is intended to protect the liberty of human beings and does not apply to a nonhuman animal like "Happy."

Many animal rights activists and industries that depend on animals had been watching the case closely.

The zoo and its supporters had warned that a win for advocates at the Nonhuman Rights Project could open the door to more legal actions on behalf of animals, including pets and other species in zoos.

The Bronx Zoo argued "Happy" is neither illegally imprisoned nor a person, but a well-cared-for elephant “respected as the magnificent creature she is.”

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