NEW YORK, June 14 (Reuters) – Happy the elephant will remain at the Bronx Zoo after New York state’s highest court ruled on Tuesday against an animal rights group that said she deserved some of the same rights as humans and should be set free.

In a 5-2 decision, the Albany Court of Appeals said the writ of habeas corpus, which allows people to be released from unlawful detention, did not apply to Happy despite claims that which the 51-year-old elephant shared many of the same cognitive abilities as humans. Read more

“While no one disputes that elephants are intelligent beings deserving of proper care and compassion,” Chief Justice Janet DiFiore wrote, “Happy, as a nonhuman animal, has no legal right admitted to be at liberty under New York law.”

Join now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Register

DiFiore also said granting Happy freedom would have “a huge destabilizing impact on modern society” and could generate a “deluge” of petitions to free animals, possibly including pets and pets. assistance.

She said it should be up to the legislature to decide whether or not to grant nonhuman animals the same legal rights as people.

Tuesday’s decision is a defeat for the Nonhuman Rights Project, which four years ago began asking New York courts to release Happy to one of two US elephant sanctuaries.

The Florida-based group had objected to what it saw as Happy’s imprisonment in a one-acre (0.4-hectare) enclosure at the zoo, separate from other elephants.

Neither the Nonhuman Rights Project nor the Bronx Zoo immediately responded to requests for comment.

Two lower courts had previously sided with the zoo, which maintains that Happy is being well cared for.

In heated dissents, the dissenting justices sympathized with Happy.

“When the majority responds, ‘No, animals can’t have rights,’ I worry about that animal, but I worry even more about how that answer denies and denigrates the human capacity for understanding, d ’empathy and compassion,’ wrote Judge Rowan Wilson.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Register

Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Mark Porter

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.