Three New York courts have ruled that captive chimpanzees do not count as “legal people,” swatting back an activist group’s bid to grant them legal rights.
The Nonhuman Rights Project filed three lawsuits on behalf of four chimps in order to win them the right to “bodily liberty.” The group wants the chimps to be moved to a sanctuary where they can live in an environment that resembles their wild habitat, CNN reports.
(MORE: Do chimps have human rights? This lawsuit says yes)
Founder and President Steve Wise has previously said that the lawsuits aimed to ask “judges to recognize, for the first time, that these cognitively complex, autonomous beings have the basic legal right to not be imprisoned.”
The Nonhuman Rights Project had expected to lose this first round of lawsuits, but the group plans to appeal the decisions as a habeas corpus petition, most likely in early 2014.