Elephant at Bronx Zoo at center of legal fight as protesters seek relocation to sanctuary

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THE BRONX -

A legal battle is underway to have an elephant moved from the Bronx Zoo to a sanctuary, and her supporters say the creature should be considered a person.

Protesters say the elephant, named Happy, is not happy at the zoo at all. Now a lawsuit for an order of habeas corpus is headed to Bronx Supreme Court in a legal fight waged by the Nonhuman Rights Project against the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the Bronx Zoo.

At the crux of the suit is whether an elephant has the right to legal personhood and bodily liberty, to know what's best for itself.

Happy is a female Asian elephant born in 1971. She has had many homes, and has been at the Bronx Zoo for years.

Since the zoo announced it would phase out its elephant exhibit entirely, it's managing the elephants already there through the end of their lives, though Happy now lives alone.

The zoo says sanctuaries confine animals, too -- just in larger spaces. In a statement, it told News 12, "Information is being circulated... [that] lacks any direct knowledge about our individual elephants."

WCS says that Happy is content and is evaluated frequently by people who have cared for her for years.

News 12 is told the case is awaiting assignment to a judge to move forward.

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