In a precedent-setting ruling, an Argentinian court has ruled that an orangutan who has spent 20 years at the zoo in Buenos Aires should be recognized as a person.
Sandra, the 29-year-old orangutan in question, has her freedom at stake: The court’s decision to recognize her as a “non-human person” would free her from the zoo and transfer her to a nature sanctuary in Brazil, reports BBC. The zoo has 10 working days to launch an appeal.
The Association of Professional Lawyers for Animal Rights (AFADA) requested the ruling last November, alleging that Sandra suffered “unjustified confinement of an animal with proven cognitive ability.”
“This opens the way not only for other great apes, but also for other sentient beings which are unfairly and arbitrarily deprived of their liberty in zoos, circuses, water parks and scientific laboratories,” AFADA lawyer Paul Buompadre told Argentina’s La Nacién.
Earlier this month, a New York court ruled against a chimpanzee being granted human rights, and in 2011, a lawsuit against SeaWorld to free five wild-captured orca whales was dismissed.
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