In a milestone ruling, ‘Sandra’ the orangutan, was granted legal personhood by a judge and has now relocated to central Florida.
Judge Elena Liberatori’s ruling proclaimed that the orangutan legally was not an animal, but in fact a non-human person. That meant Sandra was entitled to various legal rights relished by humans, plus improved living conditions. “With that ruling I wanted to tell society something new, that animals are sentient beings and that the first right they have is our obligation to respect them,” said Liberatori.
The ruling in 2015 came after campaigners of animal rights submitted a habeas corpus petition—a document used typically to dispute the legality of a human’s imprisonment or detention—on behalf of Sandra. The orangutan, 33, was birthed in Germany and lived at the Buenos Aires Zoo for 25 years prior to arriving at her new abode (the Center for Great Apes) on November 7.
Patti Ragan, Center for Great Apes director, noted Sandra is adapting to the center. “She was shy when she first arrived, but once she saw the swings, toys, and grassy areas in her new home, she went out to explore,” said Ragan. Ragan too explained the ‘animal’ met her caregivers and has acclimated well to the changed climate, dubbing her “sweet and inquisitive.” “This is the first time in over a decade that Sandra has had the opportunity to meet other orangutans, and she will meet them when she chooses. It is a new freedom for her, and one we are grateful to provide,” she added.
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