Sandra the Sumatran Orangutan declared ‘non-human person’ by Argentinian Court

In a landmark decision that has gained world-wide attention, an Argentinian Court has ordered a Buenos Aires Zoo to release Sandra, a 29 year old Sumatran Orangutan, on the basis that she has the legal status of a non-human person and the right not to have her liberty arbirtarily deprived.   The proceeding was brought on Sandra’s behalf by the Association of Officials and Lawyers for Animal Rights who filed a habeas corpus petition (typically used to challenge the legality of a person’s detention or imprisonment) and argued that Sandra should not be treated as an object because of her intelligence and complex ways of thinking.

Sandra had lived her whole live in captivity.  However, the Court agreed that Sandra, as a sentient and intelligent animal with capacity to reason and feel emotions, should be afforded the basic rights of a non-human person, and ordered the Zoo to release Sandra to a sanctuary in Brazil.

This is a great development in animal rights law, and a prime example of how dedicated legal advocacy can directly improve the welfare of animals.

Few details are yet available, and Lawyers for Animals will be keeping an eye out for English translations of the judgement, and whether the Buenos Aires Zoo appeals the decision.

For more details, see the news articles published by the ABC, Reuters, and The Independent.

 

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Animal Testing

Cruel and painful testing on animals is widespread in medicine, agriculture, pharmaceutics and education. However, the scientific merit and human benefit of many of these tests is contested by numerous scientists.

Amendments to the Code of Practice have seen ‘benchmarks’ implemented calling for the three R’s: reduction (less animals used), replacement (non-animal alternatives) and refinement (ensuring suffering is minimised).

Unfortunately, there is still a long way to go before there is an onus on people to utilise non-animal means of testing – such as the use of proteins from human cells.


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