Sunday, April 3, 2016

Unlocking the cage?

An intriguing movie will open in theaters this June. Unlocking the Cage is the story of lawyer Steven Wise's struggle to obtain legal rights for non-humans, especially chimpanzees.

There is no question Wise's cause is just. Many, many animal experts wish we could take chimpanzees (and orcas and elephants, etc., etc.) out of harmful captive situations. But is the American society ready to grant legal rights to non-human primates? Is that the fight we want to take on right now? I have to admit that I would feel more comfortable about the movie's premise (and the legal effort's prospects) if it didn't prominently feature Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, who has a record of loony beliefs, including her assertion that bonobos can talk. (See What the hell is going on at the Great Ape Trust?)

Unlocking the Cage may have the tremendous impact of Blackfish. Alternatively, it could set back efforts to get research and pet chimps into sanctuaries, especially if it shows Steven and Sue going off the deep end. I sincerely hope it's the former.