Category Archives: Animals

Chimps: “Legal Persons” With Basic Rights?

Steven Wise is a 63-year-old legal scholar in the area of animal law who believes that animals of higher intelligence should be able to sue their owners for their freedom. After witnessing the cruelty of a caged chimpanzee named Tommy and three other chimps in similar situations, Wise plans to represent the chimps by filing lawsuits against the current owners. The lawsuits will be the first of their kind in American history.Steven Wise. Photo NYT

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: ‘Animals Are Persons Too’ by Chris Hegedus and DA Pennebaker NYT

“How does a thing become a person? In December 2013, the lawyer Steven Wise showed the world how, with a little legal jujitsu, an animal can transition from a thing without rights to a person with legal protections.

Tommy the chimpanzee lives in a dark basement  cage in Gloversville, N.Y.

Tommy the chimpanzee lives in a dark basement cage in Gloversville, N.Y.

Chimps Hercules and Leo live in a research lab similar to this one. Project Release and Restitution.

Chimps Hercules and Leo live in a research lab similar to this one. Project Release and Restitution.

This Op-Doc video follows Mr. Wise on his path to filing the first-ever lawsuits in the United States demanding limited “personhood” rights for certain animals, on behalf of four captive chimpanzees in New York State.

After he started his career as a criminal defense lawyer, he was inspired by Peter Singer’s book “Animal Liberation” to dedicate himself to justice for animals.

Book: Animal Liberation by Peter Singer.

Book: Animal Liberation by Peter Singer.

He helped pioneer the study of animal rights law in the 1980s. In 2000, he became the first person to teach the subject at Harvard Law School, as a visiting lecturer. Mr. Wise began developing his animal personhood strategy after struggling with ineffective welfare laws and regulations that fail to keep animals out of abusive environments. 

The current focus of Mr. Wise’s legal campaign includes chimpanzees, elephants, whales and dolphins — animals whose unusually high level of intelligence has been recognized by scientific research. The body of scientific work on chimpanzee cognition, in particular, is enormous, and scientific testimony is crucial to Mr. Wise’s legal arguments. 

His team, the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), selected as its first plaintiffs four chimps living in New York: Tommy, Kiko, Hercules and Leo. 

He chose these animals in large part because New York’s common laws are favorable to habeas corpus lawsuits, and because there are great ape sanctuaries that could accommodate them. Read more…

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: Intermediate – Advanced

Language Skills: Reading, writing, speaking and listening. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.

Time: Approximately 2 hours. 

Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson) access to news article, and video clip.

Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing. 

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Ask students to examine the titles of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them  examine the photos. Based on these sources,  ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article.  

  K-W-L Chart 

Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about chimpanzees in captivity.  Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic. K-W-L chart from Michigan State UniversityAdvanced K-W-L chart.Intervention for Reading copy

 

II. While Reading Tasks

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Freeology Word Chart for assistance. Have students prepare sentences using the words. 

  1. The lawyer Steven Wise is working on behalf of four captive chimpanzees in New York State.
  2. Mr. Wise  has spent more than 30 years developing his strategy for attaining animal personhood rights.
  3. After he started his career as a criminal defense lawyer, he was inspired by Peter Singer’s book “Animal Liberation”.
  4. He helped pioneer the study of animal rights law in the 1980s.
  5. Mr. Wise had to struggle with ineffective welfare laws.
  6. The welfare laws and regulations failed to keep animals out of abusive environments. 
  7. Legal personhood would give some animals irrevocable protections that recognize their critical needs to live in the wild.
  8. New York’s common laws are favorable to habeas corpus lawsuits.
  9. This fall, the cases will be likely to go to New York’s intermediate appellate courts.
  10. His plaintiffs, the four chimps, will be deemed legal persons and relocated to outdoor sanctuaries around the United States.

vocab Freeology

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading.  If  a statement is true they mark it T.  If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they  mark  it F and provide the correct answer.

  1. Steven Wise is a plaintiff. 
  2. Mr. Wise is filing the first-ever lawsuits in the United States demanding limited “personhood” rights for certain animals.
  3. Mr. Wise has spent 4 years developing his strategy for attaining animal personhood rights. 
  4.  He was inspired by Pete Seeger’s song, “Animal Liberation”.
  5. Steven Wise became the first person to teach the subject of animal rights at Harvard Law School.
  6. Mr. Wise is defending  four captive dolphins in New York State.
  7. Elephants, whales and dolphins are also the current focus of Mr. Wise’s legal campaign.
  8. Tommy, Kiko, Hercules and Leo are the four plaintiffs.
  9. If Mr. Wise wins, he will have successfully broken down the legal wall that separates animals from humans.
  10. Mr. Wise will ask celebrities for help with his campaign.

 Grammar Focus

Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. Mr. Wise  is fighting for animal personhood rights.
  2. He helped pioneer these study of animal rights law in the 1980s.
  3. Current laws fail to keep animals out of abusive environments. 

II

  1. Elephants are also the current focuses of Mr. Wise’s legal campaign.
  2. The body of scientific work on chimpanzee cognition is enormous.
  3. His team, the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) is helping.

III

  1. This fall, the cases will go to New York’s appellate courts.
  2. This Op-Doc is adapted from a feature-length documentary.
  3. We hope these works will inspire people to thinks differently about animals.

III. Post Reading Tasks

Reading Comprehension Check

Graphic Organizers: Finding the main idea

Directions:  Have students use this nice graphic organizer from Enchanted Learning  to assist them with  discussing  or writing about  the main points from the article. 

WH-organizer from Enchanted Learning

Discussion/Writing Exercise

Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.

  1. The article states, “How does a thing become a person? In December 2013, the lawyer Steven Wise showed the world how, with a little legal jujitsu, an animal can transition from a thing without rights to a person with legal protections.”  How would you restate this idea  into your own words?
  2. The article states, “The body of scientific work on chimpanzee cognition, in particular, is enormous, and scientific testimony is crucial to Mr. Wise’s legal arguments.”  Explain why scientific testimony would be crucial to Mr.Wise in this case. Provide an example. 
  3. In your opinion, should animals have the same rights as humans? Why or why not?
  4. Can you foresee any problems with a law such as this one? If so, explain what kind of problems. 
  5. Do you own a pet? If yes, describe your pet and how you care for it. If no why not? Would you ever own a pet? How would you treat it?

IV. Listening Activity   

Video Clip:  Animals Are Persons Too | Op-Docs | The New York Times 4/23/14 Produced by: Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker

 “This short documentary follows the lawyer Steven Wise’s effort to break down the legal wall that separates animals from humans.”


While Listening Activities

Sentence Fill-ins

Directions: Students listen for the correct word or phrase to complete the sentences taken from the video. They are to choose from the options presented.

 

  1. We’re saying/said non-human animals are going to be persons not people.
  2. In law the fundament/ fundamental distinction  is between being  a thing  and being a person.
  3. When she’s a thing she’s the same as the palm tree/three out there.
  4. When she’s a person she’s the same as my sum/son.
  5. In the United Sates alone for every beef/beat of my heart, 160 animals are killed.
  6. How do you get the attention of the judges/judge?
  7. The animals that we’re looking at are most closely the different speaks/species of great apes.
  8. He would like to learn a quick/quirk language.
  9. He wants me to come in and see him right new/now.
  10. In Japan there was a chimpanzee colony/colonize.

Post-Listening Activities

Questions for Discussion

Directions:Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions.

1. After listening to this video has your personal idea of chimpanzees in captivity changed in any way? If yes, describe in what way. If no, describe your original opinion.

2. Did  you agree with everything the speakers said?  Discuss which comments  you agreed with and which ones you tended not to agree with. Explain why.

3.  With your group members, make up questions that you would like to ask Steven Wise or the chimpanzees, remember that they can communicate a little!

ANSWER KEY: Chimps with legal rights

V. GROUP PROJECTS

Visual Creations: Students can create graphs, pictures, or collages of chimpanzees in captivity and in their natural habitat to demonstrate their understanding of the article. They can do this individually or in groups.

 Photo Activity for speaking or Writing: Students can visit a zoo or a sanctuary for chimpanzees. If permitted they can take photos  and write different captions for each one. Have a contest for the best one!

Related Articles

Should a Chimp Be Able to Sue Its Owner?  By Charles Siebert, The New York Times Magazine

Behind the Cover Story: Charles Siebert on the Fight for Animal ‘Personhood By Rachel Nolan, The New York Times

 

 

 

Category: Animals | Tags: ,

Elephants Can Recognize Human Languages

Elephants have long been seen as intelligent creatures. Now it has been discovered that the African elephants can remember and differentiate between people who mean them harm and those who pose no threat to the herd.

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: Elephants Can Tell Gender, Ethnicity in Human Voices by AFP

“African elephants can differentiate between human languages and move away from those considered a threat, a skill they have honed to survive in the wild, researchers said.

The study suggests elephants, already known to be intelligent creatures, are even more sophisticated than previously believed when it comes to understanding human dangers.

African elephants (Loxodonta africana) are the largest land animals on Earth and are considered a vulnerable species due to habitat loss and illegal hunting for their ivory tusks.

African Elephant Herd Amboseli National Park, Kenya.

African Elephant Herd Amboseli National Park, Kenya.

Researchers played recordings of human voices for elephants at Amboseli National Park in Kenya to see how they would respond, according to a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Some of the voices were from local Maasai men, a group that herds cattle and sometimes comes into conflict with elephants over access to water and grazing space. Occasionally, elephants are killed in clashes with Maasai men, and vice-versa.

Other recorded voices were from Kamba men, who tend to be farmers or employees of the national park, and who rarely represent a danger to elephants.

Still other voices tested on the elephants included female Maasai speakers and young boys.

All were saying the same phrase: Look, look over there, a group of elephants is coming…

An African elephant journeys with her baby through the grasslands of Amboseli National Park. (BBC)

An African elephant journeys with her baby through the grasslands of Amboseli National Park. (BBC)

When elephants heard the adult male Maasai voices, they tended to gather together, start investigative smelling with their trunks, and move cautiously away. But when elephants heard females, boys, or adult male Kamba speakers, they did not show concern.

Baby love. National Geographic

Baby love. National Geographic

The ability to distinguish between Maasai and Kamba men delivering the same phrase in their own language suggests that elephants can discriminate between different languages, said co-author Graeme Shannon, a visiting fellow in psychology at the University of Sussex.” Read more…

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: Intermediate – Advanced

Language Skills: Reading, writing, speaking and listening. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.

Time: Approximately 2 hours.

Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson) access to news article, and video.

Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Stimulating background knowledge

Brainstorming

Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about  the topic.  Next, have students look at the picture(s) in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article. Debrief as a class and list these ideas on the board.

Great Brainstorming chart from Kootation.com

Great Brainstorming chart from Kootation.com

 

II. While Reading Activities

Vocabulary

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. African elephants can differentiate between human languages.
  2. African elephants  are considered a vulnerable due to habitat loss.
  3. Maasai men herd cattle.
  4. The Maasai come into conflict with elephants.
  5. Occasionally, elephants are killed in clashes with Maasai men.
  6. When elephants heard the male Maasai voices they tended to gather together.
  7. Elephants can decipher the more sing-songy Maasai language from the Kamba tongue.
  8. It is very sophisticated what the elephants are doing.
  9. Elephant groups usually include older matriarchs.
  10. In those scenarios, they bunched together so that juveniles  were in the center.
Word Chart By Education Oasis.

Word Chart By Education Oasis.

 

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading.  If  a statement is true they mark it T.  If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they  mark  it F and provide the correct answer.

  1. African elephants can differentiate between human languages.
  2. African elephants are the smallest animals on Earth.
  3. The local Maasai men live in peace with elephants.
  4. The recorded voices were played for hundreds of elephants.
  5. Baby elephants are born with little tusks.
  6. When elephants heard females, boys, or adult male Kamba speakers, they showed concern.
  7. The ability to distinguish between Maasai and Kamba men is the same as understanding what the words mean.
  8. Their response to hearing Maasai men talking was to be alert, to move away, but not to run away in fear.
  9. Elephant groups with older matriarchs in their midst did best at assessing the threat from different speakers.
  10. According to researchers, we have become a formal enemy of the elephants.

  Grammar Focus

Using Adjectives  to describe pictures    

Directions: Have students choose a picture from this lesson and write a descriptive paragraph using adjectives. For a review of Adjectives visit ESL Voices Grammar

III. Post Reading Tasks

Reading Comprehension Check

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion/Writing Exercise

Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.

  1. According to the article, Elephant groups with older matriarchs in their midst did best at assessing the threat from different speakers, further bolstering the presumed role of learning in the animals’ behavior.” How would you put this into your own words?
  2. The article states, “A separate study published last month… showed elephants even have specific alarm calls for when humans are near, suggesting the relationship between people and elephants has reached a troubling point and that conservation efforts are more important than ever.”  Why do you think elephants fear humans?
  3.  What are the most significant ideas in this article?

 IV. Listening Activity   

Video ClipElephants Can Tell Gender, Ethnicity in Human Voices by AFP Published on Mar 13, 2014

“Elephants can tell age, gender, and ethnicity by listening to human voices according to a team of researchers who tested a group of African elephants in Kenya recently. The study was based off of a hypothesis that proposed elephants could process information about potential human threats by the noises they made. Mark Sovel and Lissette Padilla discuss the skills that elephants have picked up over many years of survival, in this clip from the Lip News.”

 While Listening Activities

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the statements with students before the watching the video. As students listen to the video if a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they mark it F and provide the correct answer.

  1. The study was done in India.
  2. The elephants were able to distinguish between two different languages.
  3. The messages were played over a loud speaker.
  4. The other mammals mentioned in this report were Tigers.
  5. Elephants were afraid of the voices of women and children.
  6.  Elephants were able to recognize a female voice even when the pitch was lowered.
  7. The bull elephants always charge first when the herd is in danger.
  8. Elephants can also distinguish between portraits on canvas.
  9. The narrator stated that elephants should be kept in zoos for observation.
  10. A similar study with elephants was done in the U.S.

Video Link 

Post-Listening Activities

Questions for Discussion

Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions.

1. After listening to this video has your personal idea of elephants changed in any way?   If yes, describe in what way. If no, describe your original opinion.

2. Discuss which parts of the video you found interesting and which ones you did not. Explain why.

3. With your group members, make up questions that you would like to ask the researchers of this experiment.

ANSWER KEY-Elephants and  human language

Category: Animals | Tags: , ,