BEASTLY BRAINS was released last month and yesterday I spent the day in NYC in support of the Nonhuman Rights Project's case on behalf of a chimpanzee named Tommy, who is included in my book.
The Nonhuman Rights Project works for the recognition and protection of fundamental rights for nonhuman animals. They are working tirelessly to gain legal rights for great apes and other highly cognitive animals held in captivity in the United States.
As I sat in the courtroom I imagined a classroom debate - rights vs no rights.
Students could examine these existing cases and hold a debate on whether or not these animals should obtain legal rights.
Some things to consider:
- a river in New Zealand recently obtained rights
- historic civil rights cases
- the definition of habeas corpus
Here is a booklist that features apes and can provide readers with critical thinking opportunities.
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate received the Newbery Medal and tells the story of a captive gorilla called Ivan. Based on fact, Applegate imagines the story from the gorilla's point of view. The real Ivan spent 27 years in a shopping mall enclosure. Beautifully told, this book will touch readers in a profound way. Applegate went on to write a nonfiction companion book that is a must-read!
The Murderer's Ape by Jacob Wegulius tells the fictional story of Sally Jones, a gorilla, that must clear her human friend's name after he is accused of murder. This unusual detective story is a tale of great friendship and a survival.
Read Endangered, Threatened and Rescued, three books featuring great apes, by two-time National Book Award finalist, Eliot Schrefer. These books combine the issues of great apes with wonderful storytelling.
If your class does hold a debate, please let me know. I'd be happy to SKYPE in for Q&A. And I'd love to know the results!