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The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) finally got their way. A local city council has voted 4-1 to adopt a resolution to declare that elephants aren’t just animals and instead deserve “the legal rights of a nonhuman animal.”

This has been a long-term effort by NhRP, one during which they’ve been smacked down by courts several times. They’ve been on the receiving end of irritated and annoyed judges who were forced to listen to their arguments.

“Habeas corpus is a procedural vehicle intended to secure the liberty rights of human beings who are unlawfully restrained, not nonhuman animals,” New York Court of Appeals Chief Judge Janet DiFiore wrote in 2022.

Judge Jenny Rivera piled on at that time too, asking about Happy the elephant that is cared for at the Bronx Zoo. “If Happy is a person, does that mean that I couldn’t keep a dog? I mean, dogs can memorize words.”

While they’ve lost their multiple arguments in courts thus far, NhRP finally achieved a small victory. Unsurprisingly it happened in California.

Making History

The Ojai City Council became the first city in America to recognize the legal rights of a nonhuman. The council passed by a 4-1 vote a resolution adopting the ordinance, titled “Right to Bodily Liberty for Elephants.”

As media reported, the ordinance “protects elephants’ rights to liberty” and prevents any person from “stopping elephants from exercising their right to liberty.” The measure was introduced last year by City Councilwoman Leslie Rule who worked closely with NhRP.

“It isn’t a joke,” Rule stated. “Let’s encourage society to evolve its basic understanding of its relationship to all nonhuman entities.”

NhRP, which pushes the “personhood rights” campaigns, celebrated the vote, too.

“For elephants and the nonhuman animal rights movement, we are proud to support this first-of-its-kind ordinance and we commend the Ojai City Council for standing up for what is necessary and just,” said NhRP Director of Government Relations and Campaigns Courtney Fern.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo elephant
An oppressed elephant (Courtesy Cheyenne Mountain Zoo)

Those comments are not parody. The judges’ earlier skepticism was repeated by some watching these most recent developments. Justin Barker, a political analyst who focuses on animal and wildlife-related laws, is familiar with NhRP and their numerous previous attempts to garner nonhuman animal rights, including the court cases related to Happy the Elephant.

Barker made the obvious observation.

“You know that the law you are trying to push isn’t good when you repeatedly have to say ‘This isn’t a joke’ to the press,” he said. “I mean, you have plenty of California residents facing personal liberty violations, those should have been dealt with first.”

There’s No Zoo Here

The ordinance in Ojai is a solution in search of a problem. NhRP simply shopped around enough to find a place they believed they could push through their elephants’ rights propaganda. Detractors noted that the ordinance does little and is more of a publicity stunt.

In Ojai, the measure that passed the city council states that elephants in Ojai “cannot be held captive unless the space is comparable to an accredited sanctuary.” Since it is illegal in California for a private citizen to bring home an elephant as the family pet anyways, the only place that could be zoned and receive the proper permits would be a zoo or accredited sanctuary. The nearest zoo to Ojai is the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Wild Animal Park in nearby Escondido.

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

But that’s exactly the type of place NhRP has attacked (and lost, several times) in the past with their schemes. In New York, NhRP sued the Bronx Zoo. Happy the Elephant came to the Bronx Zoo in 1977. She’s now a 52-year-old elephant in the care of zookeepers, well-fed, bathed and watched over. Happy even has a social life with visitors and other elephants. NhRP lost all those challenges.

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

Officials at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo fought back, stating, “The group filing the lawsuit is known for wasting credible organizations’ time and money. 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.”

Now, NhRP used the Ojai City Council to pass an ordinance with carveouts for the same locations they’ve attacked and sued in the past. Justin Barker commented on the absurdity of the situation, suggesting it could lead to something weird.

“The Ojai law is kind of crazy and is only inviting someone to bring an elephant there and to directly challenge it,” he said.

The Broader Picture

The Ojai City Council decision could lead to future litigation as it did in New York and more recently in Colorado. Hunters and conservation advocates should keep a watchful eye on any consequences. If a court in California decides an elephant — or any other animal at a zoo — does indeed possess personhood rights, the floodgate would open for future lawsuits against other zoos and animal sanctuaries.

The anti-hunting and animal rights activism wouldn’t stop there. Activist groups could then sue dairy cow or meat processing operations, pig and chicken farms, or pheasant preserves.

NhRP’s goal has never been about freeing elephants from zoos or granting rights to nonhuman animals. It has always been about forcing a radical anti-hunting agenda by judicial precedent that would disenfranchise hunters – the original conservationists.

 

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

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56 COMMENTS

  1. “It isn’t a joke,” Rule stated. “Let’s encourage society to evolve its basic understanding of its relationship to all nonhuman entities.”

    Basic understanding of our relationship with non human entities eh? Yea sounds like a joke

  2. The crazy is strong in Ojai!

    The City Council is full of Lenin’s “Useful Idiots”.

    • I literally just drove by Ojai earlier today going from Point A in my area of CA to Point B. Nice wine country, but full of wingdings.

  3. Just great – now we are going to have jackasses that self-identify as elephants so that they can be called a person.

  4. This legal “victory” is indisputable, public acknowledgement that the people of Ojai are certifiably insane, suffering h mental health disorder, a group of human animals who need to be involuntarily committed to the state mental institutions. And prohibited from breeding.

    Or, Ojai is already an insane asylum, and should be receiving more inmates until the number of criminally insane exceeds the physical area of Ojai.

  5. “ ‘It isn’t a joke,’ Rule stated. ‘Let’s encourage society to evolve its basic understanding of its relationship to all nonhuman entities.’ ”

    I did that, evolved my basic understanding of my relationship to nonhuman animal entities – I call it ‘food’ for short.

    • “The land of fruits & nuts” indeed. This is way beyond the ordinary dimtard🙄

    • “I did that, evolved my basic understanding of my relationship to nonhuman animal entities – I call it ‘food’ for short.”

      Clever, that.

      • Yea where non human entities are concerned i think I’ve evolved about as far as I’m gonna go. Dogs are pets, cows and chickens are food sources. Elephants are to look at at the zoo. Pretty simple for me.

        On another note, my wife and i were talking about the animal freaks and I mentioned how could cows not be put here for a food source…they taste like steak and they squirt milk out of their udders. Can you say ocaams razor?

        • “…how could cows not be put here for a food source…”

          Isn’t it interesting that the apex predators on the planed are omnivores, with so many food sources?

        • Sam, we didn’t claw our way to the top of the food chain to eat grass, although many Pr0gtards would smoke it too.

  6. Starting at the top, they are. Wondering how long it will take them to work their way down to roaches – they were here first, right?

  7. Totally off subject, but Hamas launched an invasion into Israel overnight, totally by surprise and totally overwhelming both NATO and Israeli intelligence and their (supplied by US) air defences. How long before we commit troops to the region, and how long before China invades Taiwan ?

    • How could it be a surprise? Joe just increased their budget by $6B. Did someone think they would spend it on new hijabs?

    • Israel and Hamas are at it.
      Russia and Ukraine are at it.
      Serbia and Kosovo are at it.
      Armenia and Azerbaijan are at it.
      Africa is poppin’ off coups like they’re going out of style.
      South America is, well, South America.
      Canada is registering podcasters with the state and pushing euthanasia on the poor.

      Good times. Good times.

  8. I heard the line for a chance to marry an elephant is wrapped around the block.
    Oh, California. My whole life I’ve been promised the “big one” will solve the California problem and here I am still waiting.

    • Every corner on the Ave had a guy in a trench coat chanting, “Speed, acid, lids. Speed, acid, lids.” One asked to join my table for coffee while his regular break. Upon discovering I had an interest in geology, he asked me – “Has California ever been underwater?” I confirmed that had. He was greatly relieved. He had been “seeing a lot of fish lately”, and was curious as to whether they were ghosts from the past, or portents from a future inundation. If they were just ghosts, no need to head for the hills, right?

      Ah. the ’60s. Swimming thru the air, all down the Ave his fish were, merging with the cars and people…

      Very nice guy, hope he is OK.

  9. And how long will it take Abe Lincoln, oops sorry, A.Blinken to finish drawing the coloring book for appraising FJB of the situation ?

  10. This will create an influx of elephants from San Francisco, New York City and even Mexico. Then Ojai will pass out free peanuts from taxpayer dollars. It’ll be a circus!

  11. well, this is California so expect the state to mandate that elephants who identify as their opposite gender must be given ‘gender transition’ pseudo-science-medical ‘transition drug therapy’ and surgery at tax payer expense.

  12. Hah hah hah humans.
    Now you go to prison for vehicular animalcide.
    ,
    and just like that the F150 sales drop.

  13. Breaking: Nonhuman animals remain nonhuman animals after Ojai victory. NhRP puzzled.

    “NhRP Director of Government Relations and Campaigns Courtney Fern stated ‘We are examining the situation. Right now we don’t know why the nonhuman animals didn’t transform into beings more human like. We’ve applied for $33 billion in federal funds to help us study this devastating racial inequality violence more fully. And President Biden has said he will establish an office of ‘NonHuman Animals’ headed up by Vice President Kamala Harris. We must defeat this systemic racism.”

  14. it’s all very simple, Animals can’t make and keep agreements. Therefore they are not entitled to Human Rights. All the people who voted for this need to be dumped in a lion enclosure, so they can personally “Live the their tTuth”, before they become dinner.

    California should be focusing on restoring Human Rights to it’s citizens, not playing pretend and other silly games.

      • Any big carnivore enclosure. Big cat, bear, leopard seal, python, etc.

        Hippos are known as the most dangerous animal in Africa with the most people killed each year.

  15. I expect nothing less from kalifornia. They’ll give them driver’s licenses next week

  16. Isreal is being backed by the U.S.
    Hamass is being backed by Iran.

    Basically, the U.S. is ‘at war’ in the middle east against Iran. And with dementia-help-ive-fallen-and-cant-get-up Joe as commander-n-crook. Plus now the American tax payer is going to be footing the bill by Joe printing billions we don’t have and sending it to Isreal AND Ukraine …and biden-nomics is a failure and the economy is in the crapper and about to get worse.

    Look Joe, why don’t you use one of those 5 guns you have in your home and put you out of our misery.

  17. “City Councilwoman Leslie Rule”

    Like the governor of New Mexico wanted to suspend the 2nd Amendment, I propose someone suspend the 19th Amendment until these stupid liberal white women can be chastised and brought back into line.

  18. OK, so . . . one of my redneck acquaintances goes deer hunting, and afterwards, finds out that the big deer is actually an elephant. Will he face murder charges? Negligent pachycide? Willful pachycide? This sort of thing can get confusing, really quick.

    • No because he can also identify as an elephant and claim self defense as a non binary xyz who was threatened by the mere presence of a non xyz elephant

  19. California has banned the import of pork products unless the pigs were raised in specific sized pens. I should look into wholesale cost of bacon in Arizona, and what I can get for it in California. And the penalties for getting caught smuggling bacon into Cali.

  20. With rights come responsibilities. Our new elephant citizens will now have to pay taxes and abide with all laws. They will need to start serving on juries and register for selective service, as their ancestors, the war elephants, have in the past.

  21. @Southern Cross
    “Sam, we didn’t claw our way to the top of the food chain to eat grass, although many Pr0gtards would smoke it too.”

    Exactly. We started at the top of the food chain. Humans can kill and eat anything organic. It’s just that ” the apex predator can survive.” But maybe I’m just misinformed. It is said roaches can survive even a nuclear contaminated planet.

    • @Sam:
      Then I must be a roach…our society isn’t surviving Unclear Contamination.
      Somehow I’ve survived an unclear Pretend president.
      It’s unclear who the ruling powers bow down to.
      It’s unclear why my votes never get tallied.
      It’s unclear when President Soros is going to draft my sons.
      I’m scared they’ll push the red button and start a Unclear War too…
      Help me Obi Wan Possum, you’re my only hope!

  22. Well the people in africa eat elephants. And the people in america eat cows. But the people in india don’t eat cows.
    So I guess it all depends on what part of the world you live in.

    btw
    I found great recipes for giraffe elephants and other African animals on the internet. Just as to are some great beef stew recipes as well.

  23. Will they have the responsibilities of a person? Can they be convicted of crimes? Then, no.

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