For several years, when I served on the board of a primate refuge, I sponsored Lee, a Long-tailed macaque. Caged, tattooed, wearing a restraining collar, Lee had served as a model in toxicity labs. The refuge removed the collar and sent it to me, together with the portrait photo in this column.
We are primates. We should have no difficultly imagining how a macaque must feel, captured, detained, tormented. Why does our law permit it? If a corporation can be a legal person, can’t a macaque?
Cases have been made for the personhood of nonhuman great apes, but this line of advocacy has yet to achieve broadly meaningful results. Imagine the state of the biosphere by the time we get to the case for gibbons or lemurs or macaques.
Climate change raises the stakes. Much of the Long-tailed macaques’ native territory is mangrove forest and riverside land that’s highly sensitive to global heating.