Mr. Taylor writes about the Great Ape Project's campaign to win fundamental rights for all hominids with New Zealand's Animal Welfare Act. While the Act was a significant step in the struggle for hominids' rights, larger steps, including a Nonhuman Hominid Protection Bill, will soon follow.
All members of the Homindae Family (humans, chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans) share complex cognitive aptitudes not shared by most other animals. Yet only human hominids have legal rights to life and personal security. The campaign to win fundamental rights for all hominids took a small but significant step forward in 1999 when New Zealand’s Animal Welfare Act banned the use of non-human hominids in research, testing, and teaching except where such uses are in the hominids’ best interests. In preventing human interests from trumping non-human ones, the Act took a first step toward dismantling speciesism within the hominid family. Larger steps are now being planned. A Non-human Hominid Protection Bill has been drafted with provisions to protect non-human hominid lives, partially restrict their trade as property, and confer legal standing though guardianship provisions. This will be submitted to the New Zealand Parliament later this year.