Home            Ape Rights

What Human Rights Should Apes Have?

Rights of Apes

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."


This quotation is from Declaration of Independence of the United States of America.  The word used is 'Men'.  I take this to mean all Humans. Naturally, the writers of the famous document were not including animals. 
I would like to discus what rights should be given to Apes. They are not Human, but clearly are intelligent, self aware animals. They can pass the mirror self awareness test.  If an ape sees itself in a mirror, it soon works out that it is seeing itself.  Few animals can do this.  For example, if a monkey is shown a mirror, it reacts as if it has seen another monkey.  Similarly, if a Siamese Fighting Fish is shown a mirror, it displays as a preparation to fight its own reflection.

Apes and Humans can recognize themselves.

I am not suggesting that all Human rights be given to Apes although some people have seriously suggested this.  I think that animals as well as Humans should have the right to not be deliberately tortured.  This right for animals is already given by the cruelty to animals acts in force in most places.  This right for Humans is included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was pushed through the United Nations by one of history's greatest people, Eleanor Roosevelt.  However, I suggest extending this right for apes a little more.  Just as it is illegal to subject Humans to scientific experiments that are cruel, I think apes should also have this right.

The Right to Life is not given to all animals.  For example, some people eat meat.  It is a natural thing to do.  Humans are omnivores. This normally involves killing animals.  Most people accept this.  However, I think that Apes should also have the Right to Life.  In some places, Humans catch, kill and eat Apes.  Ape meat is sold as 'Bush meat'. (This is not a reference to the 43rd President.) I regard this as being extremely close to cannibalism.  To stop this it would be necessary to replace 'Bush meat' with some other food.

The right to Liberty is not as straight forward, but at least we can give Apes in captivity the right to good treatment, so, even in Zoos, they can exercise their 'Right to the Pursuit of Happiness' in their own way.
A young female Chimpanzee at BeijingZoo being photographed with a tourist.
By user:snowyowls (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 ( or CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons