I saw in the news recently that an orangutan in the Buenos Aires zoo had been judged by an Argentine court to be entitled to some of the same rights as human beings.
Among those rights, the court ruled, is the entitlement to be free from the suffering imposed by a lifetime of confinement.
Great apes, after all, are sentient beings — a fact supported by the incident several years ago in which a primate of the same species, housed in a zoo in California, happened to find a piece of wire dropped carelessly by a keeper, which it used to pick the lock of its quarters and enjoy a stolen night at large.
I have no quarrel with the court’s ruling in the case of Sandra, the 29-year-old ape in Argentina. My hope, however, is that animal rights fanatics will not use it as a precedent.
I do not wish to be hauled before a judge in a proceeding to settle the question of whose rights take precedence — mine or those of the cats and the dog of our household.
I’m quite prepared to argue that the cognitive powers of the creatures with whom we share our lodgings would compare favorably with those of any primate the opposing counsel might call to offer evidence.
My confidence is based not on science but on an extensive body of experience. Take, for example, the rather important issue of sleeping accommodations.
To state the matter geographically, I have preferred — from earliest childhood, through military service and on into my subsequent years of marriage — to spend my nights lying on the easternmost side of the bed.
It has seemed to be a harmless enough fixation.
Regrettably, that is also the place favored by two of our cats, Mickey and Laika.
No sooner have I claimed my customary spot and arranged myself in a position guaranteeing an uninterrupted night’s rest than I begin to experience pressure against my back. If I resist, the pressure increases.
They have not yet succeeded in pushing me off the bed. And even if that were to happen, the fall of only a couple of feet would not result in any serious injury.
There is no malice in their behavior. They only want to be sure that I acknowledge and honor their entitlement. And I accept that.
If an Argentinian ape has inalienable rights, certainly our feline family members do as well. And it will not require a court and lawyers to settle the matter.
For more of C.W. Gusewelle, go to gusewelle.kansascity.com.