Brazilian Animal Rights Groups Wants Chimp Freed

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He was rescued from a circus 13 years ago and has been living alone at the Niteroi Zoo ever since, but 24 year old Jimmy may soon be moving out.

Last month animal rights groups filed a petition of habeas corpus to set Jimmy free and relocate him to a reserve to live with other apes.

The petition argues that Jimmy is a living being with rights, rather than an object and should be granted the same freedom of movement that applies to people under Brazilian law.

Selma Mandruca from the Great Ape Project.

[Selma Mandruca, Coordinator, Great Ape Project]:
"We decided to file this habeas corpus to protect chimpanzee Jimmy from the inadequate place in which he lives. He is a chimpanzee who lives in isolation and this goes against the nature of chimpanzees, who just like human beings, are gregarious animals who must live in groups. He also faces a situation of inadequate exposure confirmed by experts, veterinarians and biologists."

The zoo's veterinarian however, disagrees. Thiago Muniz says to expose Jimmy to other male chimps in a reserve after a life of isolation would be irresponsible and dagerous.

[Thiago Muniz, Veterinarian]:
"The central issue here is that removing this animal and introducing it to another social group with more individuals is very dangerous and complicated since he is a fully grown animal, a 24-year-old who has reached his sexual maturity. He is an adult male and the adult males tend to battle for territory and this fight for territory is usually very aggressive."

In 2005 a judge granted a chimp her freedom from a northeastern zoo, and while the animal died before the ruling could take affect, the fight over Jimmy's future has reignited the issue of whether an animal should be treated as a subject with rights under the law.

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