Orangutan ‘entitled to human rights’

An orangutan that has lived 20 years at the Buenos Aires zoo is entitled to some legal rights enjoyed by humans, an Argentine court has ruled.

The ape’s lawyer called the decision unprecedented and a ticket to greater freedom.

The ruling comes a month after a local animal rights group filed a habeas corpus writ in favour of Sandra, who was born in Germany but has lived in captivity in Buenos Aires most of her life.

“Following a dynamic ... judicial interpretation, it is necessary to recognise that the animal is subject to rights, and should be protected,” said the ruling.

Andres Gil Dominguez, who represented the orangutan, said the “unprecedented” ruling paves the way for the habeas corpus rights to be accepted by the courts and for Sandra to be released at a sanctuary.

“It sets a precedent that changes the paradigm of animal guardianship and will impact their rights,” he said.

“It will lead to a lot of discussions. From this ruling forward ... the discussion will be whether captivity in itself damages their rights.”

Earlier this month, a New York appeals court ruled that a chimpanzee is not entitled to the rights of a human and does not have to be freed by its owner.

The three-judge Appellate Division panel was unanimous in denying “legal personhood” to Tommy, who lives alone in a cage in Fulton County.

A trial-level court had previously denied the Nonhuman Rights Project’s effort to have Tommy released.

The group’s lawyer, Steven Wise, told the appeals court in October that the chimp’s living conditions are akin to a person in unlawful solitary confinement.

He argued that animals with human qualities, such as chimps, deserve basic rights, including freedom from imprisonment.


Lifestyle

We know porridge is one of the best ways to start the day but being virtuous day in, day out can be boring.The Shape I'm In: Food blogger Indy Power

Sheila O’Flanagan can’t pin down an exact number of books she has written.First lady of fiction: Sheila O'Flanagan is happy to be accessible

This might not be the most entertaining topic but it is that time of year when colds, flus and nasty bugs enter classrooms and homes.Mum's the Word: Top tips for keeping nasty bugs and illnesses at bay

Laura Whalen is a Munster-based dollmaker and mother-of-five, and the founder of the Bábóg project, a community crafting drive to make a commemorative doll for all the babies born in Irish mother and baby homes.Made in Munster: Meet the West Cork dollmaker who uses bio-degradable materials for her craft

More From The Irish Examiner