Sandra Orangutan Declared a Person With a Right to Freedom

An Argentine court has recognized intelligence as a reason to confer personhood

Posted Dec 22, 2014

In a most welcomed landmark decision, an Argentine court has ruled that the Buenos Aires zoo has to release Sandra, an orangutan, to a sanctuary, because during 20 years of confinement she has suffered "unjustified confinement of an animal with proven cognitive ability" and "should be recognized as a person with a right to freedom." The court said that Sandra should be transferred to a nature sanctuary because Sandra is a "'non-human person'" which (sic; Sandra should be referred to as who) has some basic human rights." Intelligence and the ability to suffer are reasons to confer personhood to a nonhuman animal. 

This is very important news. According to AFADA (Association of Professional Lawyers for Animal Rights) lawyer Paul Buompadre, "This opens the way not only for other Great Apes, but also for other sentient beings which (sic) are unfairly and arbitrarily deprived of their liberty in zoos, circuses, water parks and scientific laboratories." 

Many of you know that attorney Steven Wise, president of the Nonhuman Rights Project and his colleagues, have been working tirelessly for many years to get courts in the United States to make a similar ruling (please also see "Animal Rights, Steven Wise, and Steven Colbert"). Let's hope that the decision about Sandra paves the way for future success for many other animals in many other countries. 

The free teaser image can be seen here

Marc Bekoff's latest books are Jasper's story: Saving moon bears (with Jill Robinson; see also)Ignoring nature no more: The case for compassionate conservation (see also)Why dogs hump and bees get depressed (see also), and Rewilding our hearts: Building pathways of compassion and coexistenceThe Jane effect: Celebrating Jane Goodall (edited with Dale Peterson) will be published in 2015. (; @MarcBekoff)