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A Status Elevation for Great Apes


Posted: 29 May 2012  

Rebecca Dresser

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law

Date Written: May 29, 2012


The ethical case for changing the way we treat nonhuman animals is gaining ground. Two federal policy developments last year are evidence that United States officials are responding to arguments for elevating the moral and legal status of certain species: chimpanzees, gorillas, and other great apes. The policy actions show that society is beginning to see these species, our closest nonhuman relatives, as less like property and more like beings entitled to respect and protection. The key question is whether these steps are the beginning of a more general trend. Will humans move toward conferring higher moral status on other nonhuman species?

Keywords: ethical treatment of animals, animal rights, use of animals in scientific studies

Suggested Citation

Dresser, Rebecca, A Status Elevation for Great Apes (May 29, 2012). HASTINGS CENTER REPORT, Mar.-Apr. 2012. Available at SSRN:

Rebecca Dresser (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law ( email )

Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States

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