Tommy the Chimp Seeks Legal Recognition of Personhood


Animal rights group Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) brought 4 separate lawsuits to New York State Courts last year in response to what they called the unlawful imprisonment of various chimpanzees. NhRP President Stephen M. Wise asserts that chimpanzees should be granted the same basic rights as humans, given that they are distinguished by “possession of an autobiographical self, episodic memory, self-determination, self-consciousness, self-knowing, self-agency, referential and intentional communication, language planning, mental time-travel.” Nearly a year after the start of the arduous legal battle, Spade of Kings correspondent Spade King follows up with Tommy the Chimp in an exclusive interview.

“I greet the large event in the high smile, without not the fingers from friend will not the success” was Tommy the Chimp’s only statement at his press conference, spoken through Google Translate’s Chimp-English Translator Beta Version. Striding serenely through a swarm of onlookers, journalists, fans and critics, Tommy seems unruffled by the roar of shouted questions, flash bulbs and car horns. He takes one last look toward the throng of people on the steps of New York State Court, and steps into his waiting limousine, disappearing behind tinted glass.

Exhaling deeply, the facade fades and he looks weary and deflated. He signals to the driver and the courthouse shrinks in the rearview. A year after bringing his case to court, Tommy still has not been recognized as a human being. I thank him for granting me this exclusive interview and for the free limo ride. He pours two glasses of scotch, hands one to me, and opens the Google Chimp-English App on his iPhone 6. “In the final, the litigation will recognition which I was knowledge of it before; I am people.” He sighs and stares out the window.

Tommy the Chimp, 26, informs me that he has been wanting to get out on his own since he was a teenager. However, because no landlord would allow him to sign a lease, he could not. He’s spent the better part of the last 8 years playing Grand Theft Auto, drinking Monster Energy drinks, and swearing at his captors. “Do not the misunderstanding, the enjoyment was unto me real for time. Contrary I like increase happy life as free man.”


Tommy becomes more serious, his gaze narrows, and he tells me about the life changes he will make once he is granted full autonomy. He plans to get his driver’s license, finish high school, and find a part-time job. After graduating, he will meet a nice girl, move into a loft apartment in Manhattan, join a gym, and make semi-regular entries in his blog ‘’. Finally, he will become a father. “I attempt the single stepping one time on the stone, but with the eventual I take the offspring beautiful have we the content time in the coming future,” says Tommy, “condition the woman comes unto me yet”. He laughs self-deprecatingly, but his good humor is ephemeral.

We arrive at the steps of my apartment, and I still have many questions. I thank Tommy for his openness, and he pats me heartily on the shoulder. “Get out,” he says. I am caught off guard by his tone, but I look into his vacant eyes and see a broken man– er, chimp. I can see that he is serious. I finish my scotch and step out. The limousine tires screech and a spray of muddy street water stains my khakis. ******* monkey. I collect myself and walk the stairs to my apartment. The mud will come out in the wash.


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