Spain’s Parliament could soon be making history for the animal rights cause. A parliamentary committee recently passed resolutions that would extend some basic human rights to the great apes. If passed next year, the law would give chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos and orangutans the right to life, freedom from arbitrary captivity and protection from torture, which would include preventing them from being used in harmful scientific testing. They could also no longer be used in circuses, for television commercials or for films, though they would still be kept in zoos (under revised, improved conditions). This law would be monumental, and is expected to pass, which is very exciting!
We share almost 99% of our genetic makeup with chimpanzees. They are similar to us in so many ways:
Male chimps have a drive for power; females have strong maternal feelings. Studies indicate chimps plan for the future, have a sense of fairness, empathy and altruistic tendencies, and they can be violent during warfare.
Their mental capabilities surpass those of many humans – children or the mentally handicapped, for example – and yet so many people still feel that they do not deserve some of our most basic rights. I don’t understand it. What are humans so afraid of? Why are so many humans determined to put nonhuman animals into an “other” category – a “they’re not like us” mentality? So what if they are like us?! What is the problem with that?
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that certain minority groups, women, and children were considered property. How long will it take us to realize that just as that mentality was misguided, so is this idea that nonhuman animals can be used by humans in whatever way we deem appropriate or acceptable?
Kudos to Spain for taking the lead on this. I will be following its progress and hope that it does indeed pass next year and the movement can gain some momentum from it!
Thanks to Please Do Not Tap on the Glass for writing about this & inspiring me!