Court: Orangutan Has Human Rights

Argentina's Sandra wins case to leave zoo
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2014 6:19 AM CST
Updated Dec 22, 2014 8:48 AM CST
Court: Orangutan Has Human Rights
An orangutan is seen at a zoo in Bali, Indonesia. One of its relatives has been awarded some human rights in Argentina.   (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)

Weeks after a court in New York denied a chimpanzee human rights, a similar case in Argentina has been found in an orangutan's favor. Sandra the orangutan has lived in a Buenos Aires zoo for 20 years, frequently avoiding people coming to see her. Animal rights lawyers filed a writ of habeas corpus for her, arguing that she was a "non-human person" with "probable cognitive capability" and rights of her own who was being held illegally, the BBC reports. The court agreed, and unless the zoo appeals the case within 10 days, Sandra is headed to a Brazilian primate sanctuary.

"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," says a lawyer with the group that defended Sandra. Habeas corpus filings are usually used to fight unfair imprisonment of humans. Before accepting the writ in Sandra's case, the court rejected it multiple times, the BBC notes. "When you don't know the biology of a species, to unjustifiably claim it suffers abuse, is stressed or depressed, is to make one of man's most common mistakes, which is to humanize animal behavior," a zoo rep told an Argentine paper, adds Reuters. (More orangutans stories.)

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