A large majority of Americans believe in animal rights, and if they had to choose what animal to become dogs are the top choice

A court in New York has issued a writ of habeas corpus for two chimpanzees owned by Stony Brook University. With this the court has ordered the university to explain the basis for 'detaining' the two chimps, a move which has been hailed by animal rights activists as an implicit recognition by New York courts that chimps can be legal people. Chimps are one of the most, if not the most, intelligent animals after humans. In fact, a recent study American-Japanese study even reported that chimps could beat humans are certain simple games.

YouGov's latest research shows that the large majority of Americans (74%) believe that animals do have certain rights. Only 16% say that animals do not have rights, while 10% are not sure. People with household incomes over $80,000 (25%) and Republicans (23%) are the most likely to say animals do not have rights, and Hispanics (85%) and Democrats (83%) are the most likely to say that they do have rights. 

Asked about how intelligent chimps (and dolphins) really are it is clear that they are widely regarded as intelligent. 43% of Americans think that chimps are almost as smart as humans, while 51% think they are at least more intelligent than most animals. 46% think that dolphins, which have been known to use tools and to recognize themselves in mirrors, are almost as smart as humans. 

It's a dog's life

When Americans were asked what animal they'd like to be, if they had to become one, chimps and dolphins were not top choices. The top choice, above all others, was the ordinary dog, followed by cats. Few Americans want to live the brutal life of an animal in the wild, especially if they cannot become a predator such as a lion, a tiger or an eagle. 

Full poll results can be found here and topline results and margin of error here.

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