In Austria, Hiasl, the Chimpanzee, has been a denied legal guardian

Remember when, I asked y’all about great ape human rights, and brought up how Austrian courts will judge on it earlier this month?

I’ve been keeping track of this news, and caught a News @ Nature piece titled, “Chimp denied a legal guardian,” which reports that,

“An Austrian judge turned down a request this week to appoint a woman as legal guardian of a chimpanzee.”

I bet you are confused, as I was initially reading this opening line. After the post I shared with you earlier this month, I was under the impression that Austrian judges would be deciding something more theoretical than an actually case of guardianship. The article clarifies the situation,

…Association Against Animal Factories (VGT) earlier this year went to court in an attempt to name a legal guardian for Hiasl (pronounced Hee-sel)Hiasl the Chimpanzee, who was taken in 1982 from western Africa with several other young chimps. The chimps were to be shipped to a research laboratory, but did not have proper documentation and were intercepted by customs officials, according to Martin Balluch, president of the VGT. Two of them, Hiasl and Rosi, ended up at the Vienna Animal Protection Shelter.

Balluch says they are worried that the shelter may no longer be able to afford to keep Hiasl and Rosi, and his group wants to ensure the chimps do not end up in a zoo or a laboratory. “If they are sent outside of Austria, then anything could happen to them,” he says.

The VGT decided the best strategy was to seek a legal guardian for Hiasl, and then, if they won, use that as legal precedent to appoint a legal guardian for Rosi and other chimps in Austria, Balluch says.

In the lawsuit, Paula Stibbe, a UK citizen living in Austria and in regular contact with Hiasl since 1999, was put forward to be Hiasl’s guardian. Stibbe, who still visits Hiasl regularly, says: “I consider him a friend. He greets me with kisses, hugs.””

After reading about the details of the case, I’m a bit let down Hiasl didn’t get granted a legal guardian to preside over him because both Paula & Balluch seem to be truly invested in the welfare of him. But the judge ruled to not support legal guardianship of the chimp because she was worried her ruling may ‘create the public perception that humans with court-appointed legal guardians are at the same level as animals,’ which is generally the opinion I expressed before. Paula can still protect Hiasl.

The article goes on to discuss how this ruling carries out into the larger debate about primate rights.

But don’t let my bias sway your own personal opinion on the issue. Please check out the organization called the Great Ape Project, the one that is driving forward this global discussion on primate rights… and decide for yourself with this tricky moral issue.

3 thoughts on “In Austria, Hiasl, the Chimpanzee, has been a denied legal guardian

  1. I translate Sign Language from a friend who wishes to comment on this subject. He wishes to hide his hand (anonymous, I think he means). He says as follows with his title liberally rendered:

    Message From Simian Litigant Friend

    “See water bird
    own feather hug

    many hug
    own banana

    monkey be tickle
    stay by lake

    watch sky bird
    monkey pet
    stay hug”

    I think he’s in favor of a guardian, or maybe a better translator. I’m not sure which…

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