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Spanish parliament to extend rights to apes  Ken Garen
 Jun 25, 2008 21:05 PDT 

Spanish parliament to extend rights to apes
Wed Jun 25, 2008 4:27pm EDT

By Martin Roberts

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's parliament voiced its support on Wednesday for
the rights of great apes to life and freedom in what will apparently be the
first time any national legislature has called for such rights for

Parliament's environmental committee approved resolutions urging Spain to
comply with the Great Apes Project, devised by scientists and philosophers
who say our closest genetic relatives deserve rights hitherto limited to

"This is a historic day in the struggle for animal rights and in defense of
our evolutionary comrades, which will doubtless go down in the history of
humanity," said Pedro Pozas, Spanish director of the Great Apes Project.

Spain may be better known abroad for bull-fighting than animal rights but
the new measures are the latest move turning once-conservative Spain into a
liberal trailblazer.

Spain did not legalize divorce until the 1980s, but Prime Minister Jose Luis
Rodriguez Zapatero's Socialist government has legalized gay marriage,
reduced the influence of the Catholic Church in education and set up an
Equality Ministry.

The new resolutions have cross-party or majority support and are expected to
become law and the government is now committed to update the statute book
within a year to outlaw harmful experiments on apes in Spain.

"We have no knowledge of great apes being used in experiments in Spain, but
there is currently no law preventing that from happening," Pozas said.

Keeping apes for circuses, television commercials or filming will also be
forbidden and breaking the new laws will become an offence under Spain's
penal code.

Keeping an estimated 315 apes in Spanish zoos will not be illegal, but
supporters of the bill say conditions will need to improve drastically in 70
percent of establishments to comply with the new law.

Philosophers Peter Singer and Paola Cavalieri founded the Great Ape Project
in 1993, arguing that "non-human hominids" like chimpanzees, gorillas,
orang-utans and bonobos should enjoy the right to life, freedom and not to
be tortured.

(Reporting by Martin Roberts; Editing by Richard Williams)

C Thomson Reuters 2008 All rights reserved

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