As I reported last October, an Austrian court refused to grant Matthew H. Pan legal standing on the grounds that he is a chimpanzee, and it appears that the Supreme Court of Austria has now affirmed that decision.
An animal-rights group had sued on Mr. Pan’s behalf after the shelter where he had lived for 25 years declared bankruptcy. Pan had been shipped to Austria illegally for use in experiments but was found and turned over to the shelter. The group sought to represent him, or alternatively to have him declared a legal "person" for purposes of preventing someone from buying him and shipping him elsewhere where laws against animal cruelty may not be as strong (such as Michael Vick’s backyard).
It was unclear from this report whether or not the court had finally rejected the claim, but the court did deny a petition to appoint a trustee for the chimp and said it would be contacting the European Court of Human Rights. That is not as far-fetched as it might seem, at least in Europe, where at least two countries have amended their constitutions to provide some level of "human rights" to animals.
In America, of course, there is no such constitutional provision, which may not be that surprising since it sadly took us quite a while even to give all humans human rights. My understanding is that we currently deal with the animal-rights issue on a species-by-species basis, generally according to the cuteness and/or tastiness of the species involved. But I’m not an expert in this field.
Link: AP via Law.com
Link: Wikipedia’s "Animal Rights" article (surprisingly, but not entirely, neutral)