In their article entitled “Are Chimpanzees Entitled to Fundamental Legal Rights?” Jane Goodall and Steven Wise make a case for the legal rights of chimpanzees. Goodall, a world renowned primatologist, began studying chimpanzees in Africa in 1960. The most profound finding of her research was that chimpanzees use sticks as tools to unearth termites. Prior to that finding it was believed that only humans made and employed tools. Goodall went on to publish several books about chimpanzees and non-human animals in general. She also founded the Jane Goodall Institute in 1977, which advocates conservation, increased awareness of our important relationships with the environment and other animals, and responsible, non-invasive research on primates. In their article, Goodall recounts stories of the chimpanzees she studied, with the goal of demonstrating that they are not nearly as different from humans as we have come to believe. Legal scholar Steven Wise makes the argument that chimpanzees should be entitled to fundamental legal rights. He contends that old legal conventions are problematic today given the many similarities we have come to recognize between humans and chimpanzees and he points to common law in particular as providing hope for the future. He has garnered support for his position through his numerous writings and by way of the organization he founded, the Center for the Expansion of Fundamental Rights. Today he is one of an increasing group of animal law scholars who employ philosophical ideas and concepts to argue that legal rights should be extended to at least some other animals.
- Cavalieri, Paola and Peter Singer. 1994. The Great Ape Project: Equality Beyond Humanity. St. Martin’s Griffen.
- Finsen, Susan. 1997. “Obstacles to Legal Rights for Animals – Can We Get There from Here?” Animal Law 3: i-v.
- Francione, Gary L. 1995. Animals, Property, and the Law. Temple University Press.
- Goodall, Jane. 1996. My Life with Chimpanzees. Aladdin.
- Goodall, Jane and Steven Wise. 1997. “Are Chimpanzees Entitled to Fundamental Legal Rights?” Animal Law 3: 61-74.
- Wise, Steven. 2001. Rattling the Cage: Toward Legal Rights for Animals. Perseus Publishing.
- Center for the Expansion of Fundamental Rights Homepage
- Jane Goodall Institute Homepage