NEW YORK - The fight to get Happy the Elephant released from the Bronx Zoo was back in court Monday, with a judge hearing arguments from both sides.
The group the Nonhuman Rights Project filed a lawsuit last year for her release to an elephant sanctuary.
It is asking the court to recognize Happy’s legal personhood and right to bodily Liberty.
“She has been imprisoned, essentially in solitary for more than a decade, and with only one or two other elephants for 40 years,” said Steven Wise, the president of the group, “This has essentially driven her crazy.”
Happy is about 47 years old and came to the Bronx Zoo from Thailand in the 1970s. She’s lived alone since her companion died in 2002, separated from other elephants by a barrier.
The Bronx Zoo says she is not in isolation and has visual, olfactory, auditory and tactile contact with their other elephant Patty. The Zoo said it attempted to put the two elephants together last year after another elephant died of cancer, but that the pairing ultimately caused both elephants more stress.
The Nonhuman Rights Project argues Happy should live around other elephants and have more space to move around.
The zoo says the animal activists have it wrong, and that Happy is well taken care of.
"Happy has consistently demonstrated that she is more comfortable with her keepers, and with safe barriers between her and other elephants to keep from being bullied,” the zoo said in a statement, adding: “If NhRP were truly concerned about the health or well-being of either animal they would not be exploiting our elephants to keep their agenda of extending legal personhood to animals in the news."
The judge in the case is set to issue a written ruling.
The Nonhuman Rights Project lost a similar case in Connecticut this summer.