A sweet black macaque named Naruto was declared as ‘Person of the Year’ on Dec 6 by the animal rights group, PETA. So that begs the question, how can a monkey achieve this special recognition, and we can’t even achieve ‘Employee of the Month’?
Probably the most we’d achieve this year would be…
“He is someone, not something” – PETA
If you’ve been living under a rock or are completely unaware of today’s bizarre world, Naruto is a monkey from Indonesia who was the FIRST animal to have taken a selfie by itself. Oops, sorry – ‘himself’. The reason behind this recognition was because PETA wanted to acknowledge that Naruto isn’t a public property.
The selfie went viral and triggered a landmark copyright case between PETA and David Slater, a British nature photographer. The photo was taken all the way back in 2011 on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia. After setting up his equipment and camera, he left for a quick few minutes, and that was when the monkey took a photo of himself. He later published the photo in his book, which imploded into a huge debacle when Wikipedia reproduced those photos without permission. The company argued that the photo doesn’t belong to the photographer as it was taken by the monkey himself.
A monkey see monkey do moment later, PETA chimed in with a separate suit on behalf of the monkey…
“Naruto’s historic selfie challenged the idea of who is a person and who is not and resulted in the first-ever lawsuit seeking to declare a nonhuman animal the owner of property, rather than being declared property himself.”
And suddenly, all the legal experts were involved; questioning the personhood of the animal and if it can own a property. After much discourse on the subject, the case was settled with an agreement in which Slater will donate 25% of any future revenue made from the selfie to protect the habitat of Naruto’s macaque species in Indonesia.
That day, PETA declared that the monkey was the author and owner of his photograph. Ingrid Newkirk, president of the organisation said, “Naruto’s historic selfie challenged the idea of who is a person and who is not and resulted in the first-ever lawsuit seeking to declare a non-human animal the owner of property, rather than being declared property himself.”
Here we are, coming close to the end of the year, and some of us are still struggling to take a proper selfie, let alone achieve the ‘best’ at something. But it’s ok; we still got a few chances left for us, so let’s hope for a Christmas miracle. Aside from that, we wonder what the monkey might make out of all of this if he could speak. Who knows? He might have turned all of this monkey business into an actual business.