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Court Rules Orangutan Can Be Freed from Buenos Aires Zoo
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Summary: An orangutan being held in a Buenos Aires zoo has been freed by a court ruling. 


An Argentine zoo has to release and transfer an orangutan that has been held, according to Reuters.

A court recognized the orangutan as a “non-human person” that has been unlawfully deprived of its freedom.

A habeas corpus petition was filed by animal rights campaigners that challenged the legality of the ape’s imprisonment. The petition was filed in November on behalf of the ape, named Sandra. She is 29 and Sumatran. She was being held at the Buenos Aires zoo.

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To read more about habeas corpus, click here.

The Association of Officials and Lawyers for Animal Rights (AFADA) argued that the ape had sufficient cognitive functions and should not be held captive.

The court agreed with AFADA. It also ordered Sandra to be released and that she deserves the basic rights of a “non-human person.” Sandra was born into captivity in Germany prior to moving to Argentina.

Paul Buompadre, lawyer for AFADA, said, “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.”

This is not the first time habeas corpus writ has been used to secure a wild animal’s release from captivity. Earlier in December, a court in the United States dismissed a bid for the freedom of Tommy the chimpanzee.

To read more about Tommy the chimpanzee, click here.

Tommy is privately owned in New York. The court ruled that Tommy was not a ‘person’ entitled to the rights and protections of habeas corpus.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) filed a lawsuit against SeaWorld in 2011 that claimed five wild-captured orca whales were mistreated. The case was dismissed by a court in San Diego.

The zoo in Buenos Aires has 10 days to file an appeal of the ruling. A zoo spokesperson did not comment on the ruling. Adrian Sestelo, the head of biology at the zoo, said that orangutans are calm by nature and also solitary.

To read more about PETA, click here.

“When you don’t know the biology of a species, to unjustifiably claim it suffers abuse, is stressed or depressed, is to make one of man’s most common mistakes, which is to humanize animal behavior,” Sestelo said.

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