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What Happy deserves: Elephants have rights too, at least they should

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Happy is an Asian elephant born in the wild in 1971, most likely in Thailand. If left wild, Happy would have spent her days as a naturally curious and playful animal should, exploring the world around her, engaging in social activities with other elephants, and, of course, playing with her herd mates. But the freedom to flourish in her own way was stolen from her. Soon after birth, she was captured and sent to the United States. Held first in California and Florida, since 1977 she has been captive, mostly alone, in the Bronx Zoo.

This is an injustice that should no longer be allowed to stand. Later this year, New York State’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, will hear arguments that Happy should be granted legal personhood, and thus be allowed through the process of habeas corpus to seek her release to a sanctuary. The court must recognize that wrongful captivity of any sentient animal — human or non-human — is morally unjustified.

Humans have learned a lot about the lives of non-human animals, especially elephants, since Happy’s arrival in New York. We know for certain that Happy is not a biological unit satisfied merely with food and a safe environment. Today, scientists view Happy as not........

© NY Daily News

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