Via the ethical werewolf (who is surely pending his own Twilight-style pop culture makeover), I see that some marine biologists are now arguing that dolphins are so intelligent they deserve some human–or “person,” rather–rights.
It’s an interesting argument, and a persuasive one. Note that it relies on making a certain intelligence level the criteria for who, or what, deserves basic rights, which I think is fair. I think what it comes down to isn’t so much reasoning and problem-solving skills, but self-awareness. And the article suggests that evidence is mounting for a view of dolphins as self-conscious individuals with strong, complex personalities.
But if a dolphin is a “non-human person” (and I’m not totally convinced yet, just receptive to the idea), the obvious question that follows is what sort of rights such an entity has.