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Happy is an Asian elephant. But is she also a person?

Bronx Zoo Elephant Lawsuit
Posted at 2:01 PM, May 20, 2022

She has four limbs, expressive eyes and likes to stroll through greenery in New York City. Happy, by species, is an Asian elephant. But is she also a person?

That was the question before New York’s highest court Wednesday in a closely watched case over whether a basic human right can be extended to an animal. Her advocates at the Nonhuman Rights Project say yes: Happy is an autonomous, cognitively complex elephant worthy of the right reserved in law for “a person.”

The Bronx Zoo, where Happy resides, says no. The zoo argues Happy is neither imprisoned nor a person, but a well-cared-for elephant “respected as the magnificent creature she is.”

"Happy is likely not at all happy. She has endured a decade of loneliness and deserves the chance to be with others of her kind in a sanctuary. Please join me in telling the Bronx Zoo to release Happy to a sanctuary and let her really have a chance at happiness," the Nonhuman Rights Project said.

The group organized a petition that got 1.4 million signatures calling for the elephant's release.