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NY's highest court refuses to hear case in which group sought 'personhood' status for chimps

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ALBANY, New York — An animal rights group seeking "legal personhood" for chimpanzees won't get a hearing in New York's highest court.

The Court of Appeals, without comment Tuesday, declined to hear the appeal by The Nonhuman Rights Project on behalf of Kiko and Tommy.

Lower courts had rejected the organization's argument that scientific evidence of chimps' emotional and cognitive abilities should qualify them for basic rights, including freedom from imprisonment.

In December, a midlevel court unanimously denied human legal rights to Tommy, which lives alone in a cage.

The three justices said chimps "cannot bear any legal duties, submit to societal responsibilities or be held legally accountable for their actions."

Tommy's owner said he's cared for under strict state and federal license rules and inspections.

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