Steve Wise is the President of the Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc, an organization working towards gaining legal rights for animals. He has practiced animal protection law for over 30 years throughout the United States and has taught Animal Rights Law. His books include Rattling the Cage – Toward Legal Rights for Animals, Drawing the Line: Science and the Case for Animal Rights and Though the Heavens May Fall: The Landmark Trial That Led to the End of Human Slavery. His most recent book is An American Trilogy: Death, Slavery, and Dominion on the Banks of the Cape Fear River. You can follow him @NonhumanRights.
I came across Steve’s work some time prior to going to see him speak on a panel with Jane Goodall and Roger Fouts in 2002. I read the first three of his books listed above, and thought he had an interesting and different approach to animal rights. Namely, he had created a system ranking different animals and came out with a larger set of animals deserving rights than promoted in The Great Ape Project. I also was quite struck by his research into the trial that led to the end of human slavery, as I had read a few others making the animal/human slavery connection (such as Marjorie Spiegel’s The Dreaded Comparison) and found it thought-provoking.
I had originally scheduled to speak with Steve early on in our interview schedule, but he ended up having a scheduling conflict. I am so grateful that happened, because as it turned out, he was the last person I interviewed. I was much more comfortable interviewing by then and only had to travel a short distance to meet him, so this interview was one of the most relaxed and fun for me. We spent over 2 hours with him and he patiently answered my relentless questions and requests for clarifications. The organization he founded, the Nonhuman Rights Project, has filed its first case(s) with the goal being earning legal rights for animals. Steve is also the subject of a forthcoming documentary.
We met Steve on a summer day while he was visiting Portland on a teaching assignment. He was staying in a house and it had quite a few dogs and cats (they weren’t his) and so we took a few breaks during filming to accommodate the barking. His family helped us out by keeping the animals busy. We were able to really explore the different approaches one might take when pursuing legal rights for animals and a host of other fascinating details about the way the law works with regard to humans and animals. He is really down to earth and as you will see, very passionate about animal rights.
YOU CAN FIND ALL OF STEVE WISE’S INTERVIEWS HERE. This collection may increase as I upload more content to this site.