Argentina Judge Grants an Orangutan “Personhood”, But A New York City Judge Denies “Happy the Elephant”, The Rights of a Person

Orangutans reported:

Judge Elena Liberatori’s landmark ruling in 2015 declared that Sandra is legally not an animal, but a non-human person, and thus entitled to some legal rights enjoyed by people, and better living conditions.

“With that ruling I wanted to tell society something new, that animals are sentient beings and that the first right they have is our obligation to respect them,” she told The Associated Press.

Happy the Asian Elephant was not as fortunate. reports:


Happy the elephant will have to be happy just being an elephant.

A judge in the New York City has dismissed a lawsuit against the Bronx Zoo in which an animal welfare advocacy organization sought to declare Happy, an Asian elephant, a person with a right to be free.

The group, called the Nonhuman Rights Project, sought Happy’s release from the zoo, where she’s lived for nearly 50 years.

With this introduction in mind I will quote one answer from the article at
Why was man permitted to eat meat after the Flood (Genesis 9:2-3)? Does the fact that at his creation man was not allowed to eat meat indicate that this is the ideal state of man? But if so, what changed after the Flood?

  • Man reached a very low level of morality before the Flood, reducing human beings to the level of animals. People paid little heed to their souls, created in the Divine image, and basically began acting like animals. (This is why Cain offered plants in sacrifice to God rather than animals (Gen. 4:3). He saw animals as the equal of man. We could not kill them even in God’s service. Once the distinction between animal and man became blurred, Cain’s next step (once he realized animal life could at times be taken – as Abel did) was to kill a human.) God therefore saw need to permit animals to man – to emphasize the fundamental difference between the animal soul and the human one. Man would hopefully then begin to appreciate his humanity (Sefer Ha’Ikkarim). (For a more detailed treatment of this approach, see here and here.)