Naruto, the monkey who had picked up a camera and inadvertently clicked pictures of itself, has been named 2017 Person of the Year by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The animal rights organisation said it was honouring the Indonesian black macaque to recognise that “he is someone, not something”.

“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,” Peta President Ingrid Newkirk said. “Peta hopes that by honoring him, Naruto will be recognized as a special person – an individual with thoughts and feelings, emotions and desires, and the ability to plan and self-reflect – as a being with personality, and as someone, not something.”

Naruto had been involved in a legal battle in 2011, when Peta had filed a petition on the “monkey’s behalf’’, claiming copyright protection for the animal. British photographer, whose camera Naruto had picked up, had argued that he owned the rights to the pictures since he had set up the tripod before the monkey had grabbed the camera.

However, in September, the case was settled with Slater agreeing to donate 25% of future earnings from the photograph to registered charitable organisations.