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Falls chimps aren’t people, New York’s top court rules

ALBANY – New York’s top court on Tuesday declined to hear the appeal of the case of Niagara Falls chimpanzees Tommy and Kiko, ending a bid to gain “legal personhood” status for the animals.

The Court of Appeals, without comment, denied a motion by animal rights advocates to argue the chimps’ case at the state’s highest court. That left intact two mid-level court rulings that denied legal rights to the chimps, a court spokesman said.

The Nonhuman Rights Project had sued to get Tommy removed from a Niagara Falls farm to a sanctuary in Florida. The mid-level Appellate Division rejected the lawsuit in December.

“Needless to say, unlike human beings, chimpanzees cannot bear any legal duties, submit to societal responsibilities or be held legally accountable for their actions,” Justice Karen Peters wrote for the court in December.

The lawsuit to remove Kiko from the Primate Sanctuary, a Niagara Falls facility with 36 animals, was rejected in January. Carmen Presti, co-owner of the Primate Sanctuary, said Tuesday he was “very happy that this is finally over.”

“It was kind of ludicrous right from the start,” Presti said.

– Newsday