Steven Wise - Nonhuman Rights Project

We chat with Steven Wise, the central figure in the outstanding new documentary Unlocking the Cage that will screen at the 2016 Melbourne International Film Festival.

Unlocking the Cage follows animal rights lawyer Steven Wise in his unprecedented challenge to break down the legal wall that separates animals from humans. After thirty years of struggling with ineffective animal welfare laws, Steve and his legal team, the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), are making history by filing the first lawsuits that seek to transform an animal from a thing with no rights to a person with legal protections.

Supported by affidavits from primatologists around the world, Steve maintains that, based on scientific evidence, cognitively complex animals such as chimpanzees, whales, dolphins, and elephants have the capacity for limited personhood rights (such as bodily liberty) that would protect them from physical abuse. Using writs of habeas corpus (historically used to free humans from unlawful imprisonment), Wise argues on behalf of four captive chimpanzees in New York State.

Nonhuman Rights Project www.nonhumanrightsproject.org

Official Unlocking the Cage documentary website www.unlockingthecagethefilm.com

Save the Chimps sanctuary www.savethechimps.org

Photo courtesy of "Unlocking the Cage" filmmakers.