Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Court won't declare chimp a person

VIENNA, Austria - He's now got a human name — Matthew Hiasl Pan — but he's having trouble getting his day in court. Animal rights activists campaigning to get Pan, a 26-year-old chimpanzee, legally declared a person vowed Thursday to take their challenge to Austria's Supreme Court after a lower court threw out their latest appeal.


A provincial judge in the city of Wiener Neustadt dismissed the case earlier this week, ruling that the Vienna-based Association Against Animal Factories had no legal standing to argue on the chimp's behalf.

The association, which worries the shelter caring for the chimp might close, has been pressing to get Pan declared a "person" so a guardian can be appointed to look out for his interests and provide him with a home.

Group president Martin Balluch insists that Pan is "a being with interests" and accuses the Austrian judicial system of monkeying around.

"It is astounding how all the courts try to evade the question of personhood of a chimp as much as they can," Balluch said.

A hearing date for the Supreme Court appeal was not immediately set.

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