Orangutan “Person” Could Be Released from Zoo

Would be unprecedented worldwide

May 22, 2015
Outside Magazine
Orangutan “Person” Could Be Released from Zoo

Sandra, a 29-year-old orangutan, was given “nonhuman person” status in December.    Wikimedia Commons

A court in Argentina is deciding this week whether to release Sandra, a 29-year-old orangutan, from the Buenos Aires Zoo after she was given “nonhuman person” status back in December, Reuters reported Friday.

The zoo’s biologists argue that the animal will not be able to care for itself in the wild. “You would end up harming her because she is unaware of her predators,” said Adrian Sestelo, the zoo’s chief biologist. “She doesn’t know how to find food. She doesn’t know how to prepare a nest in a free environment. So, in fact, you could end up damaging the entire species by setting her free.”

Sandra remains at the zoo while the court deliberates. The cost to transport her back to the wild in Southeast Asia could be more than $150,000.

“A zoo is like a prison,” said animal rights lawyer Andres Gil Dominguez, who is petitioning for Sandra’s release. “It would be the same if they said a human being in captivity is doing great, he is being taken care of, he is being well-fed, but deprived of his freedom. It wouldn’t be justifiable.”

In a similar case back in December, a New York court ruled that chimpanzees are not entitled to human rights.

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