US

New York court hears arguments that chimps are 'persons' with basic rights

  • Attorney Steven Wise of the Nonhuman Rights Project argues on behalf of Tommy, a chimpanzee, before the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division on Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, in Albany, N.Y. The court will decide whether chimpanzees should be declared "persons" rather than "things" so the animals can be freed from what critics call inhumane imprisonment. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

    Attorney Steven Wise of the Nonhuman Rights Project argues on behalf of Tommy, a chimpanzee, before the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division on Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, in Albany, N.Y. The court will decide whether chimpanzees should be declared "persons" rather than "things" so the animals can be freed from what critics call inhumane imprisonment. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)  (The Associated Press)

  • Attorney Steven Wise of the Nonhuman Rights Project argues on behalf of Tommy, a chimpanzee, before the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division on Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, in Albany, N.Y. The court will decide whether chimpanzees should be declared "persons" rather than "things" so the animals can be freed from what critics call inhumane imprisonment. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

    Attorney Steven Wise of the Nonhuman Rights Project argues on behalf of Tommy, a chimpanzee, before the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division on Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, in Albany, N.Y. The court will decide whether chimpanzees should be declared "persons" rather than "things" so the animals can be freed from what critics call inhumane imprisonment. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)  (The Associated Press)

  • Attorney Steven Wise of the Nonhuman Rights Project, left, argues on behalf of Tommy, a chimpanzee, before the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division on Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, in Albany, N.Y. The court will decide whether chimpanzees should be declared "persons" rather than "things" so the animals can be freed from what critics call inhumane imprisonment. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

    Attorney Steven Wise of the Nonhuman Rights Project, left, argues on behalf of Tommy, a chimpanzee, before the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division on Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, in Albany, N.Y. The court will decide whether chimpanzees should be declared "persons" rather than "things" so the animals can be freed from what critics call inhumane imprisonment. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)  (The Associated Press)

A New York appeals court will decide whether chimpanzees should be declared "persons" rather than "things" so the animals can be freed from what critics call inhumane imprisonment.

Attorney Steven Wise argued Wednesday on behalf of Tommy, who lives alone in a cage in upstate Fulton County. A trial level judge refused a request by Wise and his Nonhuman Rights Project to have Tommy released to join other chimps at a Florida sanctuary.

Wise argues that animals with human qualities, such as chimps, deserve basic rights, including freedom from imprisonment. He's also seeking the release of three other chimps in New York.

Tommy's owner, Patrick Lavery of Gloversville, told the Albany Times-Union the chimpanzee is happy and has cable TV and a stereo for entertainment. He didn't appear in court or submit documents.