Animal Rights Idiocy Redux: Nonhuman Rights Project Now Taking Aim at Colorado Elephants

Previous Post
Next Post
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo elephant
An oppressed elephant (Courtesy Cheyenne Mountain Zoo)

The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) can’t take a hint, let alone a strongly-worded legal decision stating their ongoing efforts to gain “personhood” rights for elephants is absurd. It’s said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

That would apply here, yet again, to NhRP’s latest attempt at legal gymnastics. During their most recent failed attempt at having a court deem Happy the Elephant, in the care of the Bronx Zoo, a person with rights, the judges were irritated at NhRP’s claims.

“If Happy is a person, does that mean that I couldn’t keep a dog?,” Judge Jenny Rivera asked the attorneys representing the Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc. (NhRP). “I mean, dogs can memorize words.”

They rejected NhRP’s legal challenge in June of last year. Now, NhRP is giving it another go. This time in Colorado.

Same Lawsuit, Different Court

The Nonhuman Rights Project is an activist animal rights group that sues organizations like zoos and animal refuges in the hopes they settle, and therefor agreeing to “personhood” rights for animals.

The group filed a lawsuit in the El Paso County District Court in Colorado against the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, claiming five elephants under the care of the zoo, “suffer chronic stress and health problems because of their captivity and environment.”

The elephants, Jambo, Kimba, LouLou, Lucky and Missy, were all born in the wild in Africa and brought to the United States in the 1970s and 1980s as calves and raised under the care of zoologists and professionals since that time, according to the Denver Post. NhRP’s lawsuit seeks to have the elephants taken from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and released back to a sanctuary.

NhRP’s attorney said in a release, “From the moment their adult family members were likely killed in front of them and they were sold off to be put on display and put to work in circuses and zoos, these elephants’ lives have consisted of one trauma after another.”

Courtesy Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, located in Colorado Springs, wasn’t having it. In response to being notified of the activist group’s lawsuit, zoo officials called out NhRP activists for who they truly are.

“The group filing the lawsuit is known for wasting credible organizations’ time and money,” they said in a statement. “We exist to advance animal welfare and conservation. Our elephant care team knows the needs of our elephants and tailors specific care and exercise programs and tends to each elephant based on their preferences. Suggesting they’d be better off at a sanctuary is simply incorrect. Knowing what’s considered best for elephants in general does not equal knowing how to give Jambo, Missy, LouLou, Kimba or Lucky the care they need.”

The zoo recently spent $13.5 million on a renovation project specifically pegged to updating the elephant accommodations. 

Their Last Legal Lunacy

The last time NhRP tried this legal lunacy, they spent millions of dollars over several years only to be rejected several times trying to get Happy the Elephant deemed a person with rights.

happy elephant bronx zoo
Bronx Zoo elephant “Happy” feeds inside the zoo’s Asia habitat. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Happy was brought to the Bronx Zoo in 1977. The 50-year-old elephant was in the care of zookeepers, well-fed, bathed and watched over. Happy even has a social life with visitors and other elephants. NhRP brought lawsuits in 2018 and 2020,  both were rejected. They tried again in 2021 when an appellate court agreed with the ruling of a lower court. Next, the case to the New York Court of Appeals, the highest court in New York, which rejected NhRP’s claims in a 5-2 decision.

“While no one disputes the impressive capabilities of elephants, we reject petitioner’s arguments that it is entitled to seek the remedy of habeas corpus on Happy’s behalf,” Chief Judge Janet DiFiore wrote. “Habeas corpus is a procedural vehicle intended to secure the liberty rights of human beings who are unlawfully restrained, not nonhuman animals.”

Far-Reaching Implications

The several failed lawsuits filed by NhRP aren’t just a waste of their money and an unnecessary burden on the courts. The group’s argument has severe and far-ranging implications should a court ever rule in their favor.

If the courts decided Happy, or Jambo, Kimba, LouLou, Lucky and Missy, or any other animal at a zoo did indeed possess personhood rights, the floodgate would open for future lawsuits against other zoos. Anti-hunting and animal rights activism wouldn’t stop there.

Animal rights groups could sue dairy cow or meat processing operations, pig farms, or chicken or pheasant preserves. The New York Farm Bureau even submitted an amicus brief in favor of the Bronx Zoo warning that a ruling in NhRP’s favor during that legal challenge could be disastrous.

dairy cow
Smartshiva, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

“Worse, if any of those habeas petitions succeed in securing the release or transfer of livestock… the downstream effects also would be serious.”

That would also be an obstacle to hunters harvesting wild game for their freezers and wildlife management biologists that rely on hunting as a wildlife conservation management tool.

It’s not in their organizational DNA, but NhRP would be wise to take their previous losses and stop. Forget about Jambo and company – they are faring wonderfully in the care of the professionals at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in their multimillion-dollar, 10-acre home. The North American model of wildlife conservation demonstrates that when a society puts intrinsic value on wildlife, those species thrive and prosper.

NhRP’s goal wasn’t to free Happy and it’s not to free Jambo and the other four elephants in their latest legal fight. Their goal is to force a radical anti-hunting agenda by judicial precedent that would disenfranchise hunters – the original conservationists who contribute more than anyone else to the success of thriving animal populations.


Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. The world is full of zealots with idiotic agendas. May their frivolous lawsuits bankrupt. When we say “no,” we mean “no.”

      • Having had a conversation with a Thai recently he said Americans should not own pets on account of the world food shortage. ?
        Food shortage, 555, I’ve got three cats, I had 4 but ,,,,

        • “I’ve got three cats, I had 4 but ,,,,”

          3 Cats?

          Do you realize they are probably plotting against you? 🙂

    • But really, if a corporation, an ‘entity’ that exists only on paper, can be ruled a ‘person’ with the right under law to own property, participate in our election process and conduct all lawful business, than a living breathing mammal certainly could be classed as a ‘person’…

      • Liar69er, no, it can’t — unless you have an example of a corporation composed entirely of animals.

        You have your entire life to be a jerk. Why not take today off?

        • no name,

          Gotta give MajorLiar props for this – he will continue to doggedly pursue his uninformed idiocy FAR past the bounds where it makes any sense, at all (not that it ever did, in the first place).

  2. Maybe NhRP should turn their attention to the Trans movement who is basically trying to create a whole new species.

  3. Maybe a lawyer on this site can explain how they have standing in the first place, when we, as taxpayers, had no standing in the (attempted) Student Debt Relief.

    • You haven’t met Omar – or his customers. I met a woman last month, walking onto the scales down at the truck stop. Yes, she was wearing an Omar designer tent.

  4. I well remember a movement that required us to put pants on COWS – The movement had tens of thousands of followers until the originators it was all a hoax for a bet. But nothing about the USA surprises me any more – or the woke industry and it is an industry in the UK as well. we have more than our fair share of crazies and I have absolutely no doubt that if we laid off our GUN CONTROL legislation we’d have mass shootings as well. I MNhave no idea about bANIMAL WELFARE Legislation in the USA but once upon a time [until I retired in ’04 I was among other things an ANIMAL WELFARE OFFICER and Government MEAT and POULTRY INSPECTOR in the UK. I had my share of idiots to deal with.

    I have had my occupation [‘s] questioned from time to time so here goes
    I left scholl at 16 and joined the A ROYAL AIR FORCE as an ARMOURER APPRENTICE. after 3 years traing and a great deal and varied experience I was a SERGEANT ARMOURER/ SMALLaRMS INSTRUCTOR/ MUSKETRY COACH. and spentbthree yeras inMANGEMENTand WORK STUDY. When I left the service I joined the FAMILY FARM and gained experience in nCATTLE, POULTRY and PIGS plus BUTCHERY and BUTCHERY SMALLS manufacture. . Ten years lateer I became an OFFICIAL VETERINARY AUXILLIARY AUTHORISED MEAT and POULTRY INSPECTOR an ANIMAL WELFARE OFFICER and holder of the ADVANCED FOOD HYGIENE CERTIFICATE and a Member of the ROYAL SOCIETY of HEALTH IN my spare time I also received the ROYAL SOCIETY of ARTS CERTIFICATE in COUNCELLING and PSYCHOLOGY [Industrial Division] That’s it in a nutshell. During that time I attended TWO UNIS connected with my training SOUTHHAPTON and NORWICH No further discussion.

    • “I have had my occupation [‘s] questioned from time to time …”

      Could be because you’re a proven liar?

      Remember when I asked for your opinion? Neither do I.

    • You ARE an “amazing” individual and we mere mortals do not deserve your wisdom and superior knowledge… So, PLEASE STFU and just go away because it is obvious that you seem to THINK you know everything there is to know except that you are a fuking moron and we all know THAT so between us we already know EVERYTHING…

    • Albert it sucks getting old and nobody gives a shit about our past.
      I used to do this and I used to do that.
      You never did say if you got that birthday card I sent you, I put $20 in it.

    • Prince Albert, the Fake-Limey, Fake-Military Wanking Poofter,

      Wow, y’all need to get a better class of male bovine excrement to flog. You made sergeant (even in the pathetic Brit military) in three years????? Two universities (and you still can’t spell or compose a properly grammatical English sentence to save your life)?? You are TRULY a legend in your own mind!!!

      When did you cure cancer?? Since I’m CERTAIN that one as polymorphically enabled as yourself was able to manage the feat of curing homelessness, will you share your wisdom with the rest of us????

      Prince Albert the wanking ponce, take your bulls**t somewhere else, we all have plenty of fertilizer here. Does all that wanking on this blog ever cause tennis elbow (or, more likely, wanker’s cramp)???? So the wind blew, and the s**t flew, and . . . Albert was gone for a day or two. I suggest you retire from the field, and go take stock of your PATHETIC made-up life. I would suggest that perhaps you had a future in writing fiction, but . . . you SUCK at that.

      I understand they are hiring garbage collector’s in your mom’s neighborhood. Failing that (as you fail EVERYTHING else) perhaps they are short of crash-test dummies; that seems a job you might be suitable for.

  5. Just put them out of business. Every time they lose a case, they should be paying for the defendant’s legal fees.

    Additionally, file suit against them for interfering with business, for terroristic legal attacks, defamation, and anything else a lawyer can dream up. Give them a nice one-two punch, taking away all their funds. And, the next zoo or whatever that finds themselves in the crosshairs needs to do exactly the same.

    If NhRP can spend millions on a campaign, then hit them with tens of millions in legal costs and penalties every time they lose a campaign. They’ll stop being total fükwits soon.

    • They’ve got bleeding heart donors in the millions, and lawyers that do this stuff pro bono, they are not losing anything and they’ll keep trying for that big score… Tie em up in court will only slow the process but won’t stop them…

      • MAXX,

        While there are considerations BOTH directions, I am currently of the opinion that our Founders/their judiciary made a giant mistake with the whole “no legal fees awarded” concept for civil AND criminal litigation. Having a solid “loser pays” regime would eliminate this kind of f**ktardery in a hot second.

        I recognize that it would have made it difficult for (just as an example) many of the “groundbreaking” legal precedents (Brown v. Board of Education, for example) to be brought, but the OVERALL benefit to the American legal system is unquestionable. It would put an end to “lawfare” in a hot second, as well.

        I’m not saying that it’s a perfect solution (there aren’t any of those), but it certainly is better than our current mess. I think it’s worth a shot, personally.

  6. Habeas corpus? Are they going to bring an elephant into the courtroom to appear before a judge? Should elephants be allowed to vote? How about, gasp, own a firearm? I mean if there persons shouldn’t they be allowed protection under the Constitution? This is nothing but stupid people with too much time on their hands.

  7. If they succeed once the next time you shoot a groundhog or hit a possum in the road you could be facing murder or manslaughter charges…

  8. Society today is less and less run in rational manner. Do not be surprised when these clowns win their case, now or sometime in the future. The poor decisions made by courts and government over the past thirty plus years almost guarantees it.

    The lunatic left is destroying our civilization. So far it looks like they’re winning. However, life won’t be all roses and sunshine when they succeed. The only consolation is the lunatics will suffer as much as the rest of us.

  9. Pack your trunk Happy we are going back to Africa.
    “But I’m an Indian elephant.”
    Nonsense indians ride horses.

  10. Deer are cute, too, but failing to control their numbers can be detrimental to farmers as well as range growth and shrubbery.

    • They lose the cute real fast when they can total a car or truck… 🙁

      • Personally I get a Poner when I see a totaled out pickup and a dead deer, it’s a two fer

        • “Personally I get a Poner when I see a… “

          Wait a minute, opossums always got a boner…

          “Opossums are always happy,
          ‘cause they got a priapi”

  11. How about suing Planned un-Parenthood for personhood for all of the little babies thrown in the trash?

  12. Actually giving animals humanhood would make me feel a whole lot better when I rape chickens.

        • so, possum, it’s a two-fer? A warm meal AND busting your nut at the same time??? Mebbe being a possum ain’t so bad, after all – ‘cept for them damn F-150s.

          Also brings rich new meaning to “a chicken in every pot”, dunnit???

          Ban F-150s!!!!!!!

  13. Adolf Hitler was an animal lover and a vegetarian, just like these crackpots. Both of them hated people but loved animals. And you put those people in charge, you’ll get the same result of what happened in Germany, in 1944.

    • You are either 5 years too late or you have a significant instance in mind? There were hundreds of notable things happening in Germany in 1944, the most significant of which was the attempted assassination of Hitler in July… What is your particular occurrence?

      • I believe 1944 was the year that the extermination camps achieved their peak efficiency. It wasn’t until I think February 45 that the Germans ran out of the tools necessary, to keep killing people on an industrial level.

        And you are correct. There are many heroic people who tried to stop Adolf Hitler even before the war started.
        I believe there were nearly 50 assassination attempts on Adolf Hitler’s life, nearly 20 of them occurred even before he was chancellor.

        And all throughout the war, there assassination attempts on his life.

        The home grown German resistance movement never gets credit, in the history books or in Hollywood movies. But the History Channel and other independent groups, have done documentaries on these German heroes.

        Not every German was a n@zi.

        Read the book “A higher call.” Most of them were not “drinking the kool-aid”. There are many stories about the humanity of soldiers on both sides of the war.

        Even in the Pacific War.

  14. Stupid to file this in El Paso County, one of the most conservative counties in the state, if not country. Maybe because the zoo isn’t publicly funded. They’d have better luck going after the San Francisco zoo.

Comments are closed.