For the first time, a court of law has recognized an animal as a non-human person with basic rights. This orangutan named Sandra was represented by the Association of Officials and Lawyers for Animal Rights in Argentine courts, where it was determined that she should be freed from her unjust imprisonment in a zoo.
Since Sandra has been in captivity for so long, releasing her into the wild is not a feasible option; she will be relocated to an animal sanctuary in Brazil.
While this is not the first time the idea of non-human personhood has been floated (see, e.g., this NYTimes article, or this consensus from scientists, philosophers, and conservationists on cetacean rights), it is the first time that such a designation has been legally approved with corresponding rights. Will this unleash a cascade of further, similar judgments? Or will animal rights continue to be a low priority in a world plagued by all-too-many devastating human issues?
An orangutan named Sandra has become the first non-human animal recognized as a person in a court of law. The Association of Officials and Lawyers for Animal Rights, an animal advocacy group, had asked Argentine courts recognize the 28-year-old great ape’s right to freedom from unjust imprisonment. On Friday, an appeals court declared that Sandra, who is owned by the Buenos Aires Zoo, is a “non-human person” who has been wrongfully deprived of her freedom.