"Human Rights for Animals" – For or Against?

Fight for the animal rights is one of the most progressive international social movements calling for a deeper, more fundamental changes in our society.

At the moment there are hundreds of societies for the protection of animals all over the world, some of which protect certain groups of animals (for example animals used in experiments or wild animals in zoos and circuses), others protect all animals.

Today the cultural level of the human society in each country can be judged by the way the animals are treated. Thus the change in the position of animals in developed countries is inevitable.

Not further than last week a New York appeals court will consider whether chimpanzees are entitled to "legal personhood".

A victory in the case could lead to a further expansion of rights for chimps and other higher-order animals, including elephants, dolphins, orcas and other non-human primates.

However this is not the first case of its kind when such rights are officially recognized for the animals.

 In 2008 the Spanish parliament recognized that great apes have the rights to life and liberty simular to men’s. We are talking about orangutans, gorillas and chimpanzees.

The initiators of the project are scientists from the international organization "Great Ape Project" who believe that our closest genetic relatives deserve the rights which had hitherto enjoyed only a man.

In 2010 Helsinki Group, which includes members of the British Society for the protection of whales and dolphins, proposed the adoption of the Bill of Rights for the animals.
The Bill states that each representative of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and beluga) has the right to life and no one has the right to be the owner of these creatures or do something that violates their rights, freedoms or the rules.

They decided to equalize the rights because these animals have exceptional intellectual abilities.

  • For example dolphins are self-aware (they can recognize themselves in a mirror), grieve for the dead pups, feed the sick relatives and help fishermen if they get feed for this.
  • Non-human primates are able to understand the meaning of the symbols and use items meaningless to them as exchange equivalent for food (money).
  • Studies have shown that dolphins and whales have complex structure of the brain. What is more, they also have self-consciousness close to the human level.

And that is why they deserve to be treated as "individuals" – we should respect their rights to life and liberty.

"The person needs a personality. If this is taken into account then intentional killing of such an individual is ethically similar to killing of a human being " – says Professor Tom White of Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles.

It is reported that the recognition of such animal rights will protect intelligent animals from murder, medical experimentation, purchase and sale, keeping in small cages in zoos and provide them with a decent living.

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