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A chimpanzee is not entitled to the rights of a human and does not have to be freed by its owner, a New York appeals court ruled Thursday.

The three-judge Appellate Division panel was unanimous in denying "legal personhood" to Tommy, who lives alone in a cage in upstate Fulton County.

A trial level court had previously denied the Nonhuman Rights Project's effort to have Tommy released. The group's lawyer, Steven Wise, told the appeals court in October that the chimp's living conditions are akin to a person in unlawful solitary confinement.

Wise argued that animals with human qualities, such as chimps, deserve basic rights, including freedom from imprisonment. He has also sought the release of three other chimps in New York and said he plans similar cases in other states.

But the mid-level appeals court said there is neither precedent nor legal basis for treating animals as persons.


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