On a first reading, this article may strike you as funny and the legal battle iver whether a chimpanzee is a person or a thing as silly or even crazy. But, if you think about it seriously, this care pending before the Austrian Supreme Court could set some seriuos legal precendents, especially if they rule that the chimp is a person.
Keep in mind that the legal definition person does not require the person to be human. Corporations are considered persons in a legal sense. So why not a chimp? Especially a chimp who could end up homeless, as is the case with Matthew Hasl Pan.
I am an animal rights activist myself. I also am an anthropologist of sorts. I have a BA in anthropology, as well as a strong background in genetics. There is a close genetic similarity between humans and the great apes, which includes chimps. Actually, chimps are, of the extant species of animals, the closest to humans, genetically speaking. Plus, all the research and intelligence experiments done with chimps in the last fifty years or so show that chimps are quite intelligent: they have limited language capabilities and make simple tools.
I say the court should grant Matthew Hasl Pan legal status as a person and then he can have a legal guardian to keep him safe from exploitation and he won”t end up homeless. Without legal status as a person, he will more than likely end up being euthanized before his time. That would be, in my estimation, not only cruel but almst imhumane.
Yes, the Creation story in the Bible has God giving humans lordship over all the animals, but I seriously doubt that means we should lord it over them. Lordship does not give the right to abuse and exploit. As it is used in the Old Testamnet, it means to provide for and protect, much like a shepherd does with his flocks. Shepherds do not slaughter their animals except for food, and then only what they can eat. They do not use them for pharmaceutical experiments. They do not beat them and mistrest them.
As the 23rd Psalm says, The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. Let us be that kind of lord to Matthew Hasl Pan and guarantee that he shall never wamt.