An orangutan held in an Argentine zoo can be freed and transferred to a sanctuary after a court recognized the ape as a “non-human person” unlawfully deprived of its freedom, local media reported on Sunday.
Animal rights campaigners filed a habeas corpus petition – a document more typically used to challenge the legality of a person’s detention or imprisonment – in November on behalf of Sandra, a 29-year-old Sumatran orangutan at the Buenos Aires zoo.
In a landmark ruling that could pave the way for more lawsuits, the Association of Officials and Lawyers for Animal Rights (AFADA) argued the ape had sufficient cognitive functions and should not be treated as an object.
The court agreed Sandra, born into captivity in Germany before being transferred to Argentina two decades ago, deserved the basic rights of a “non-human person.”
“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.
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