When is an animal more than an animal?

filed under:
Image credit: 

It's pretty widely accepted than animals and humans are different, having evolved separately. But apparently some aren't sold on this whole Darwin thing and they're taking it to the courts. And this isn't just Scopes Monkey Trial 2.0. No, a group in Austria is legitimately trying to get an ape recognized as a person.

Last month, a judge in Austria tossed out the case, where the Association Against Animal Factories was trying get a chimp granted the rights of a person (but not a human). The group was lobbying for 26-year-old Matthew Hiasl Pan (see, he's already got a full human name) to be declared a person so that a guardian could take care of him. They're concerned that the shelter currently caring for him will close and that he'll be abandoned unless a legal guardian is appointed, an action reserved only for humans. With all the potential problems with this case (such as Pan not actually being a person), it's unexpected that the case could be thrown out because of a technicality. But it was; the judge said the AAAF didn't have the legal status to represent Pan. They've promised to appeal the case in the Austrian Supreme Court.

Neighboring Germany has been more accepting of animal rights. In 2002, Germany became the first country in the European union to legally recognize animal rights when the legislature voted to add "and animals" to their constitution. With the move, Germany promised to protect the dignity of animals. Switzerland (not an EU member) has a similar provision in their constitution, which recognizes animals as "beings," not themes. If only the AAAF had moved Pan abroad.

Still, others have tried to humanize animals outside of the legal system. Take George Willard and his wife Pixel. What's so special about Pixel? Well, for one thing, she's a horse. George and Pixel have been hitched for 14 years. They found fame when they were featured on an episode of the Jerry Springer Show entitled "I Married a Horse." You may not remember the episode because some local stations opted not to air it. That's right, the episode, which also featured two others' relationships with dogs, was even too racy for some normal Jerry Springer viewers. There are other examples of human-animal marriages chicken boo.gifout there, including a man in Nepal who married a dog for good luck.

But in terms of animals passing as humans, nothing trumps the classic Animaniacs character Chicken Boo. This six-foot tall chicken who looked suspiciously like Foghorn Leghorn, was able to make it as anything from a dancer to a Confederate general, without anyone realizing he was a chicken. Who knows, maybe some animals have already bypassed the legal requirements and are walking among us.

October 25, 2007 - 5:57am
webby
submit to reddit