Lawyer argues that a chimp is legally a person

(AP) — An attorney says in court in New York that a chimpanzee should be treated as a person with legal rights.

Attorney Steven Wise argued Thursday before the state appeals court in Manhattan that two chimps named Tommy and Kiko should be freed from cages to live in an outdoor sanctuary. Kiko’s owner, Carmen Presti, says his family at an upstate Niagara Falls sanctuary isn’t letting go of the deaf chimp he and his wife rescued 23 years ago.

Wise must now wait for the five-judge panel to issue their decision. That could happen in a matter of days or weeks.

Wise represents the Nonhuman Rights Project that has filed lawsuits on behalf of the chimps in various New York courts — unsuccessfully so far.