A senior orangutan held captive at an Argentine zoo can now be freed.
According to Reuters, animal rights activists filed a habeas corpus petition on behalf of a 29-year-old Sumatran orangutan named Sandra, who has been living at the Buenos Aires zoo. A judge ruled on Sunday that Sandra deserved the rights of a “non-human person.” This means she will be freed and sent to a 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,” the daily La Nacion newspaper quoted AFADA lawyer Paul Buompadre as saying.
Habeas corpus is usually filed when it’s thought that a person has been arrested, imprisoned or detained unlawfully.
The zoo’s head of biology Adrian Sestelo, told the newspaper that Sandra was not abused, and that orangutans are solitary creatures. This is true, the species is the most solitary of all great apes, with little socialization happening with others. However, the actual living conditions/space has nothing to do with the animal being kept alone. In fact some people have commented on sites such as TripAdvior that the zoo is dirty and unkept.
For now, the zoo has 10 days to appeal the ruling, although that is quite unlikely. And as for Sandra, she’s headed for a semi-wild environment.
Have you visited the Buenos Aires Zoo?