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Brother Chimp, Sister Bonobo: Legal Rights for Great Apes

Colin Goldner

Saturday, May 23, 2015 2:20pm

The Great Ape Project, initiated some 20 years ago by the philosophers and animal rights activists Paola Cavalier from Italy and Peter Singer from Australia, calls for the Great Apes – that is: orang utans, gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos – to be granted certain basic rights on the grounds of their close genetic similarity to humans as well as their similarly complex cognitive, affective and social abilities. Basic rights, which are so far reserved for humans: The fundamental right to live, to individual liberty and to physical as well as emotional intactness, which actually covers all cases of great apes being affected by humans, such as hunting, circus, zoo, animal testing and destruction of their natural habitats. Renowned scientists – amongst them Jane Goodall or Richard Dawkins – convincingly established that the traditional discrimination of man and great apes is no longer sustainable in the light of scientific knowledge - and therefore is to be morally discarded. As human beings we are not the "summit of creation", as religions of all kinds assert, but organisms brought about by evolutionary processes.

Dr. Colin Goldner is a clinical psychologist and animal rights activist. Since 2011 he coordinates the Great Ape Project, demanding legal rights for Gorilla, Orang Utan & Co.