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Spain plans 'human rights' for great apes

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Spain yesterday laid the groundwork for legislation which would grant great apes the right to life and freedom, Reuters reports.

The Spanish parliament's environmental committee approved resolutions that the country comply with the Great Apes Project, which "seeks to end the unconscionable treatment of our nearest living relatives by obtaining for non-human great apes the fundamental moral and legal protections of the right to life, the freedom from arbitrary deprivation of liberty, and protection from torture".

The resolutions have majority cross-party support and are likely to enter the statute within a year, making Spain the first nation to commit to the project. Pedro Pozas, Great Apes Project's Spanish director, enthused: "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."

Under the new rules, keeping apes for TV commercials, film work or circuses would be banned, and while Spanish zoos which house an estimated 315 great apes would not be relieved of their animals, "conditions will need to improve drastically in 70 percent of establishments to comply with the new law".

Scientific experiments on great apes would also be prohibited - a preventative measure since Pozas admitted: "We have no knowledge of great apes being used in experiments in Spain, but there is currently no law preventing that from happening." ®

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Yes, we know what you're thinking: how long will it be before Zapatero's Socialist government grows cojones big enough to tackle the touchy subject of bullfighting?

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