Wired‘s Brandon Keim reports on the story of Sandra, an orangutan in a Buenos Aires zoo, who has been deemed to possess some human rights. This sort of story is inevitable, I think, especially given the speed with which human beings have come to realize the existence of high intelligence elsewhere in the animal world. Should this intelligence, this sapience, not be protected in ways analogous to the ways in which dependent humans are protected?
The Association of Officials and Lawyers for Animal Rights, an animal advocacy group, had asked Argentine courts recognize the 28-year-old great ape’s right to freedom from unjust imprisonment.
On Friday, an appeals court declared that Sandra, who is owned by the Buenos Aires Zoo, is a “non-human person” who has been wrongfully deprived of her freedom.
Sandra, who was born in German zoo and sent to Argentina two decades ago, at an age when wild orangutans are still living at their mother’s side, won’t be given complete freedom.
Having lived her entire life in captivity, Sandra likely could not survive in the wild. Instead, if the zoo does not challenge the decision within 10 working days, Sandra will be sent to a sanctuary in Brazil.
“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,” said lawyer Paul Buompadre, one of the activists who filed the suit, to the La Nacion newspaper.