Although, when looking at this picture, I don't think anyone would see this chimpanzee as a human, that designation could very well change this animal's life. Matthew Hiasl Pan has been living in a shelter in Austria for the last 25 years, but now that organization is going bankrupt, leaving his happy home in jeopardy. Animal rights group, Association Against Animal Factories, petitioned to be appointed Matthew's trustee — and donors have come forward to help support the chimp. Sounds great, right?
Not so much. In that country, only a "person" can receive personal gifts — money for proper care and a proper home — and cannot be sold. On Tuesday, the Austrian Supreme Court ruled that a chimpanzee cannot be declared a person even for this situation, and the group plans to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights. This is a very sad case, and my biggest problem is that the best interest of the animal does not even seem to be a consideration in this ruling. This is Matthew's second close call — he and another chimp, Rosi, were captured as babies in Sierra Leone in 1982 and were smuggled into Austria for use in pharmaceutical experiments, but (luckily) customs officials intercepted the shipment and turned the chimps over to the shelter, where their lifespan in captivity is around 60 years.