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A High Court is set to decide whether an elephant should be considered a person.
Advocates from the Nonhuman Rights Project (NRP) have been arguing for a long time that they should not locked up in small cages and should be given the rights humans enjoy.
And they are fighting to have Happy, an Asian elephant, freed from her enclosure at the Bronx Zoo in New York, where she has lived for 45 years.
Happy was captured in the 1970s and taken to the States, where she was named after one of the characters from Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs.
The NRP want her to be moved from a "one-acre prison" at the zoo to a large sanctuary. The zoo, however, argue that she is not a person and is looked after and 'respected as the magnificent creature she is'.
So far, the NRP has been defeated in the lower courts, but has now taken the case to the High Court, where representatives from both sides have been arguing their cases.
Speaking ahead of the hearing, project attorney Monica Miller told The Associated Press: "She has an interest in exercising her choices and deciding who she wants to be with, and where to go, and what to do, and what to eat,.
"And the zoo is prohibiting her from making any of those choices herself."
The NRP has tried, and failed, in the past with a similar case involving a chimpanzee named Tommy. It's hoped that if the group is successful, it could lead to stronger rights for animals.
However, the zoo has hit back, arguing that the NRP are using animals for their own gain.
A spokesperson said in a statement: "The blatant exploitation of Happy the elephant by NRP to advance their coordinated agenda shows no concern for the individual animal and reveals the fact they are willing to sacrifice Happy's health and psychological well-being to set precedent."
During the hearing, judges questioned the legal teams on both sides.
At one point, judge Jenny Rivera asked Miller about the impact their case would have: "So does that mean that I couldn't keep a dog? I mean, dogs can memorise words."
Responding to the question, Miller claimed that elephants were particularly intelligent and demonstrated advanced analytical abilities.
Those who support the NRP's case argue that it offers an opportunity for "thinking more openly and honestly-and less selfishly-about... non-human animals".
A decision by the court is expected in the next few months.
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Featured Image Credit: Change.org/Gigi Glendinning/NonHuman Rights Project
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