Animal not just things. Unprecedented court ruling indicates that although not human, 29-year-old Sandra has the right to be set free to live in a Brazilian sanctuary.
A court of appeals granted a writ of habeas corpus to 29-year-old Sandra, a female orangutan in the Buenos Aires zoo in an unprecedented ruling worldwide, according to which the ape was recognized as a non-human subject who has had her human-like rights violated and will now be set free to live in a Brazilian sanctuary.
Based on the writings of Supreme Court Justice Eugenio Zaffaroni, the court wrote that animals were subject of rights and as such the protection of Sandra became a duty. In November, the lower court had turned down the request of the Association of Lawyers and Officials For Animal Rights (AFADA) but it has now been granted on appeal because it was an unjustified confinement of an animal with proven cognitive abilities.
This type of fundamentalist requests ignore the natural behaviour of the species, said Adrian Sestelo, chief biologist at the Buenos Aires Zoo, to the daily La Nacion. Orangutans are lonely, quiet animals that get together only to mate or to look after their offspring, he explained. To disregard the biology of the species claiming maltreatment, stress and depression of the animal is one of the most common mistakes by human beings, which is to humanize any animal conduct. Sandra enjoys exceptional caring and lives in loneliness because that is what her species requires, he added.
The ruling is a blow to the Argentine judicial system, which considers animals to be things. It opens the way not only for apes but for the rest of feeling beings deprived of their freedom in zoos, circuses, water parks and research centres, Sestelo explained.
Sandra was reportedly born at the Rostock zoo in Germany in 1986 and arrived in Argentina in 1994.