WASHINGTON (June 14, 2022)—On Tuesday the New York Court of Appeals rejected an animal-advocacy organization’s argument that Happy the Asian elephant was being illegally detained by the Bronx zoo and should be transferred to a more natural environment. The case was brought by the Nonhuman Rights Group, an animal-advocacy organization engaged in a long-running legal push to free captive animals. The dispute hinged on whether the cornerstone legal principle of habeas corpus should be extended to autonomous, cognitively complex animals, however the Appeals Court rejected this argument.

Joan E. Schaffner is a professor of Law at The George Washington University Law School whose scholarship focuses on animal protection law.

In response the Court of Appeals decision Ze had this to say:

The majority decision holding habeas corpus is unavailable to Happy because she is not human is an anachronistic and cowardly decision that fails to respond to the persuasive arguments of the dissent and abdicates the court's authority and responsibility to the legislature.