Argentine court rules orangutan has human rights
By:   //  Legal

by Carol Thompson

An Argentine court has ruled that  an orangutan held in a zoo can be freed and transferred to a sanctuary after a court recognized thee ape as a “non-human person” unlawfully deprived of its freedom, according to Reuters.

Animal rights campaigners filed a habeas corpus petition in November on behalf of Sandra, a 29-year-old Sumatran orangutan at the Buenos Aires zoo. A habeas corpus is used to challenge the legality of a person’s detention or imprisonment.

Sandra, who was born into captivity in Germany before being transferred to Argentina 20 years ago, deserved the basic rights on a non-human person, the court ruled.

“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,” said Association of Officials and Lawyers for Animal Rights attorney Paul Buompadre, as quoted in the  La Nacion newspaper.

Tommy, a privately owned chimpanzee in New York State, wasn’t so lucky.  Earlier this month, the U.S. Court tossed out a habeas corpus asking for his freedom.

Tommy is not entitled to the same rights as people, hence,  does not have to be freed from its cage and sent to live in a chimp sanctuary, the court ruled.

In a unanimous opinion, five judges of the state’s Supreme Court Appellate Division declined  to extend habeas corpus to the chimpanzee. Tommy is kept at Circle L Trailer Sales in Gloversville, N.Y., about 50 miles northwest of Albany.

The writ of habeas corpus was filed by The Nonhuman Rights Project.  The group alleges that Tommy, who is 26 years old, is being kept in a “small, dank, cement cage in a cavernous dark shed.”

In the case of Sandra, the Buenos Aires zoo has 10 days to appeal the Argentine court’s decision.


Image: Flickr/David and Becky








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