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Is a Monkey a Person?

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A new approach to establishing vedic-tattva - the courts may decide this question:




Monkey battle for 'person' status



VIENNA, Austria
(AP) -- In some ways, Hiasl is like any other Viennese: He indulges a weakness for pastry, likes to paint and enjoys chilling out by watching TV.But he doesn't care for coffee, and he isn't actually a person -- at least not yet.




In a closely watched test case that could set a global legal precedent for granting basic rights to apes, Austrian animal rights advocates are waging an unusual court battle to get the 26-year-old male chimpanzee legally declared a "person."




Hiasl's supporters argue that he needs that status to become a legal entity who can receive donations and get a guardian to look out for his interests.




"Our main argument is that Hiasl is a person and has basic legal rights," said Eberhart Theuer, a lawyer leading the challenge on behalf of the Association Against Animal Factories, a Vienna animal rights group.




"We mean the right to life, the right to not be tortured, the right to freedom under certain conditions," Theuer said.




"We're not talking about the right to vote here."


The campaign was launched earlier this year after the animal sanctuary where Hiasl (pronounced HEE-zul) and another chimp, Rosi, have lived for the past 25 years went bankrupt.




Activists want to ensure the two apes don't wind up homeless if the shelter closes. Both have already suffered trauma: They were captured as babies in Sierra Leone in 1982 and smuggled in a crate to Austria for use in experiments at a pharmaceutical research laboratory.



Customs officers intercepted the shipment and turned the chimps over to the shelter.




Their food and veterinary bills run about 5,000 euros (US$6,800) a month. Donors have offered to help, but there's a catch: Under Austrian law, only a person can receive personal donations.




"If we can get Hiasl declared a person, he would have the right to own property. Then, if people wanted to donate something to him, he'd have the right to receive it," said Theuer, who has vowed if necessary to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.




Austria isn't the only country where primate rights are being debated. Spain's parliament is considering a bill that would endorse the Great Ape Project, a Seattle-based international initiative to extend "fundamental moral and legal protections" to apes.




If Hiasl gets a guardian, "it will be the first time the species barrier will have been crossed for legal 'personhood,"' said Jan Creamer, chief executive of Animal Defenders International, which is working to end the use of primates in research.




Paula Stibbe, a Briton who teaches English in Vienna, petitioned a district court to be Hiasl's legal trustee. On April 24, Judge Barbara Bart rejected her request, ruling that Hiasl didn't meet the two key tests: He is neither mentally impaired nor in an emergency.




Although Bart expressed concern that awarding Hiasl a guardian could create the impression that animals essentially enjoy the same legal status as humans, she didn't rule that he could never be considered a person.


Martin Balluch, a scientist who heads the Association Against Animal Factories, since has asked a federal court for a ruling on the guardianship issue.




"Chimps share 99.4 percent of their DNA with humans," he said. "OK, they're not homo sapiens. But they're obviously also not things -- the only other option the law provides."




Not all Austrian animal rights activists back the legal challenge. Michael Antolini, president of the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said he thinks it's absurd.




"I'm not about to make myself look like a fool" by getting involved, said Antolini, who worries that chimpanzees eventually could gain broader rights, such as copyright protections on their photographs.




But Stibbe, who brings Hiasl sweets and yogurt and watches him draw, paint and clown around by dressing up in knee-high rubber Wellington boots, insists he deserves more legal rights "than bricks or apples or potatoes."




"He can be very playful but also thoughtful," she said. "Being with him is like playing with someone who can't talk."




A date for the appeal hasn't yet been set, but Hiasl's legal team already has lined up several expert witnesses. Theuer said they include Jane Goodall, the world's foremost observer of chimpanzee behavior, who revolutionized research on primates during the 1960s when she studied them at close range in Tanzania.


"When you see Hiasl, he really comes across as a person," Theuer said.




"He has a real personality. It strikes you immediately: This is an individual. You just have to look him in the eye to see that."






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It may cause people to think about what the difference is between them and the creatures. The truth may be too frightening for them. They seem to have no difficulty killing humans to satisfy their greed; I guess there's not much chance that they will reconsider killing the creatures for their avarice.

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Haribol. This can blossom into a great topic. Actually, this issue cuts to the chase on the fact that phisiological forms are of no consequence in determining the worth of a PERSON. Thank you, gHari, for your comments about the frightening (to the gross materialists) truth of it all.


Of course, a monkey is a person, by why stop there. Look into a dogs eyes. What do you see? Buttons? colored grapes? No, we see a system for attaining the truth of ones existance. Those eyes are hooked up to a whole wiring system where the six symptoms of life are generated. If any of those symptoms are absent, then maybe there is an arguement against personality. Even the DNA-vadis are baffled that there is minimal difference in the genetiuc makeup of the honeybee and the human, the dolphin and the sea urchin.


The dogs eyes are hooked up to a determining computer to decide friend or foe. Those eyes express either affection or reactivity to danger. In all the so-called animal species, we see all human traits, anger, lust, envy, eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. All the species can be rightfully considered persons.


The only discernable difference betweem monkeys and the monkey's uncle (meaning us humans) is that a fractional portion of the human population ask the questions, "Who am I, why am I here, what should I do". Because the great majority of humans never consider these questions about existance, their right to hold office, be viable to society, etc, should be equally at question. If we bar intelligent and well schooled monkeys from enjoying the results of their excellence, why not bar humans whose only intelligence comes from being schooled by materialistic program directors who refuse to consider the topics that actually do separate the human from other species.


To be continued, if others join in and get to the bottom of this great potential topic. The issues here could very well get this topic moved to the classic discussion forum. Lets istagosthi this, maybe we can do it without fighting.


Hare krsna, ys, mahaksadasa

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