THE NONHUMAN RIGHTS PROJECT INC.

Securing Fundamental Rights for Nonhuman Animals.

Coral Springs, FL   |  http://www.nonhumanrightsproject.org/

Mission

The Nonhuman Rights Project is focused on establishing legal personhood and fundamental rights for nonhuman animals through three key pillars: litigation, legislation, and education. Through them we aim to create a robust framework for the recognition and protection of fundamental nonhuman animal rights grounded in longstanding values of principles of justice. The first stage of this work is a legal fight for great apes, elephants, dolphins, and whales’ fundamental right to bodily liberty.

Ruling year info

1996

Founder and President

Steven Wise

Main address

5195 NW 112TH Terrace

Coral Springs, FL 33076 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

Center for the Expansion of Fundamental Rights, Inc.

EIN

04-3289466

NTEE code info

Animal Protection and Welfare (includes Humane Societies and SPCAs) (D20)

Legal Services (I80)

Civil Rights, Advocacy for Specific Groups (R20)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

For 2,000 years all nonhuman animals have been “things” that lack the capacity for any legal right, instead of “persons” with the capacity for dignity and rights. History teaches that the right to personhood is necessary for every other right. At times women, children, indigenous peoples, African Americans, Jews, and others were also considered “things.” Thus civil rights work was long occupied with the slow recognition of the dignity of every human animal and painfully transformed us, one group at a time, from “things” to “persons.” The human right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law now exists. There remains the matter of other animals. Their automatic exclusion from personhood solely because of their species undermines the argument that personhood for human beings may not be arbitrarily withheld. Accordingly, the NhRP has focused on establishing the right of nonhuman animals to personhood, dignity, and fundamental rights within the US and throughout the globe.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Litigation

Filing groundbreaking lawsuits to recognize and protect nonhuman animals’ fundamental rights.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Working with local governments to enact the world’s nonhuman animal rights laws.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Raising awareness of the importance of and legal basis for nonhuman animal rights and providing resources to empower people to join the fight.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of serious works in fields such as art, legal and academia produced about the organization's mission.

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Academics, Activists, Artists and performers

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Number of worldwide media discussion about our work.

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Academics, Activists

Related Program

Litigation

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Number of invitations to meetings, lectures and collaborations our organization receives.

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Academics, Activists, Artists and performers, Retired people

Related Program

Education

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

number of lawsuits filed in the US and internationally.

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Academics, Activists

Related Program

Litigation

Type of Metric

Context - describing the issue we work on

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

In 2021, we will be filing two more cases in two separate states in the US. We are also getting ready to file internationally.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The Nonhuman Rights Project aims to establish the right of nonhuman animals to personhood, dignity, and fundamental rights within the United States and throughout the world. Our long-term campaign to achieve this goal has three main pillars: litigation, legislation, and education. Through them we aim to create a robust framework for the recognition and protection of fundamental nonhuman animal rights in the US and around the world that is grounded in longstanding values and principles of justice. We began our campaigns by focusing on obtaining personhood within the US for two of the most cognitively complex, self-aware, and autonomous—indeed human-like—species on earth, chimpanzees and elephants, with gorillas, orangutans, bonobos, cetaceans, and other species to follow.

We aim to achieve our goal through three main pillars:

1) Litigation:
Throughout 2019, we filed memoranda and briefs and argued before appellate judges in Connecticut on behalf of our elephant clients, Beulah, Karen and Minnie, made to perform by a traveling circus, and appellate and Supreme Court judges in New York on behalf of Happy, held captive at the Bronx Zoo for over 40 years. Our arguments focused on the illegality of our elephant clients’ thinghood and lack of rights, which permits them to be treated as mere things to be exploited.

2) Education:
We freely share our research and legal filings, frequently address live audiences, utilize social media, and connect with diverse media outlets to reach billions globally. In 2019, NhRP President Steven M. Wise taught a course in Animal Rights Jurisprudence at the Lewis and Clark Law School, Tel Aviv Law School, and the Autonomous University of Barcelona Law School. We lectured throughout the world, including at the University of Denver, Cambridge University, and Dalhousie University, as well as to bar associations and legal groups.

3) Legislation:
In 2019, we continued to lay the groundwork for legislative work by developing strong working relationships with local, state, and federal legislators and building a diverse supporting coalition. In the spring of 2019 in Los Angeles, we publicly announced our legislative plans.

We have built a lean by strong legal team as well as essential support staff who work together with our supporters and donors in the US and around the world to achieve our goals. Here are a few things we achieved toward our goal just in 2019:

Rallies were an important grassroots advocacy tool for the NhRP in 2019 to complement our litigation, engage supporters, and help mount public pressure. In February, 100 people joined the NhRP in our first rally in Massachusetts for the freedom of the Commerford elephants. We went on to hold two more equally well-attended rallies outside the Bronx Zoo for Happy while awaiting the Supreme Court hearing.

We took our first public step toward legislative work in April by announcing our plans at LA City Hall on the 85th birthday of our founding board member Dr. Jane Goodall. A Councilmember openly stated that his committee would convene the first ever hearing on nonhuman animal rights in 2020 and we began to confer with Congressional staffers about rights legislation at the federal level.

In the same month, Wise argued for 50 minutes (court rule permits 20 minutes) that the Commerford elephants are entitled to habeas corpus relief and an order sending them to a sanctuary. Later in the year, we argued on behalf of Happy before Justice Allison Y. Tuitt, who heard a total of ten hours across two days. Both the duration and substance of these hearings were unique for arguments on preliminary motions or any habeas corpus proceeding, with Justice Tuitt providing the NhRP with ample time to delve into the most pressing issues in the case—who counts as a legal person and why Happy is entitled to the fundamental right to liberty and must be released to a sanctuary.

In August, the Constitutional Court of Colombia (the country’s highest court) invited the NhRP to submit a video as it prepared to decide whether a bear should be permitted to use habeas corpus to secure his freedom via litigation modeled on the NhRP’s. This is just one example of the NhRP sharing our recognized expertise and offering support to nonhuman rights advocates around the world in 2019. We worked closely with NhRP international legal working groups in Israel and India and advised groups in Canada and Finland.

The NhRP’s nonhuman animal rights litigation and soon-to-be-launched legislation are the first of their kind in the world. Our persistence and bold approach are already changing the legal status quo and have catalyzed a global conversation about how our legal systems view and treat nonhuman animals.

First clients sent to sanctuary

Thanks in part to the spotlight shined on their plight by our litigation, our chimpanzee clients Hercules and Leo are now living freely at Project Chimps sanctuary. Hercules and Leo are the first nonhuman animals in history to be granted a habeas corpus hearing to determine the lawfulness of their detention.

Legal firsts

In December of 2018, our client Happy became the first elephant to have a habeas corpus hearing.

Litigation modeled on the NhRP’s has freed a chimpanzee named Cecilia to a sanctuary. Cecilia is the first and only nonhuman animal in the world to be recognized as a legal person with rights.

Historic court rulings

In May of 2018, a judge on New York’s highest court wrote that the failure of the New York courts to grapple with the issues the NhRP raises “amounts to a refusal to confront a manifest injustice … To treat a chimpanzee as if he or she had no right to liberty protected by habeas corpus is to regard the chimpanzee as entirely lacking independent worth, as a mere resource for human use, a thing the value of which consists exclusively in its usefulness to others. Instead, we should consider whether a chimpanzee is an individual with inherent value who has the right to be treated with respect.”

Judge Fahey is the first high court judge in the US to hold that “there is no doubt that [a chimpanzee] is not merely a thing.”

In June of 2018, New York’s Fourth Judicial Department cited to the NhRP’s chimpanzee rights case on behalf of Kiko in People v. Graves, writing, “It is common knowledge that personhood can and sometimes does attach to nonhuman entities like corporations or animals.” We see Graves and Fahey’s opinion as signs the New York courts have finally begun to reconsider and reject the thinghood and rightlessness of nonhuman animals.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    First and foremost we serve nonhuman animals. By doing so, we also serve human animals. Because nonhuman rights are based on the same values and principles of justice that protect human beings from unjust imprisonment and exploitation, recognition of nonhuman rights only strengthens the foundation for human rights. Put another way, as soon as you start denying rights to anyone for biased, arbitrary reasons, you’re putting the foundation for human rights on shaky ground. If we truly believe in values and principles like liberty and equality, we should and must extend them to at least some nonhuman animals. We serve those who are, like us, dedicated to our fight and want to be a voice for the voiceless and see rights for nonhuman animals.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Case management notes, Community meetings/Town halls, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees, Suggestion box/email,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Based on the feedback from the people in our community, we have created more educational resources, found virtual ways to host activist meetings and rallies, and communicate across all channels (ie. social media, email, phone) to allow supporters from all the places we advocate in as well as our wider community worldwide to join our fight. As we continue to build out our website, easily accessible and shareable online content is a top priority as heard from our supporters so that they can spread the word and be ambassadors for our clients and for nonhuman rights. Lastly, given the success and amazing feedback we received from last year’s virtual event, we are preparing to host another virtual event this year and consider them a key fundraising and advocacy tool moving forward.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    Our staff, Our board,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    It has connected the community closer together and has allowed a smoother exchange of ideas, a better feedback loop, and made for more meaningful conversations with groups of supporters and with individual supporters. The supporters in our community feel as though they know all staff members and staff feel we know our supporters.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, We don’t have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently, The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome,

Financials

THE NONHUMAN RIGHTS PROJECT INC.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

THE NONHUMAN RIGHTS PROJECT INC.

Board of directors
as of 02/22/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Steven Wise


Board co-chair

Mrs Gail Price-Wise

Florida Center for Cultural Competence, Inc.

Steven Wise

Gail Price-Wise

Florida Center for Cultural Competence, Inc.

Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall Institute

Arnie Perlstein

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 5/18/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 05/18/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.