Argentine court declares that ape has human rights

You would have to assume that by the mere title of human rights including the word human, that apes were automatically disqualified.

Not so if you are an Argentine judge:

In an unprecedented decision, an Argentine court has ruled that the Sumatran orangutan ‘Sandra’, who has spent 20 years at the zoo in Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires, should be recognized as a person with a right to freedom.

The ruling, signed by the judges unanimously, would see Sandra freed from captivity and transferred to a nature sanctuary in Brazil after a court recognized the primate as a “non-human person” which has some basic human rights. The Buenos Aires zoo has 10 working days to seek an appeal.

The “habeas corpus” ruling in favor of the orangutan was requested last November by the Association of Professional Lawyers for Animal Rights (AFADA) alleging that Sandra suffered “unjustified confinement of an animal with proven cognitive ability.”

Lawyers argued that just as a person, the ape is capable of maintaining emotional ties and has the ability to reason, while feeling frustrated with her confinement. Furthermore, the legal team claimed that the 29-year old orangutan can make decisions, has self-awareness and perception of time. And therefore, all things considered, Sandra’s presence at the Zoo constituted illegal deprivation of liberty.

Not to speak poorly of Sandra, but the same can be said about most dogs and cats.  

Habeas corpus is a fundamental legal term in human rights, dating back to the early fourteenth century during the reign of Edward I in England. At that time courts began requiring the monarchy to report the reasons behind restricted freedom of a subject.

Sandra’s case is not the first in which “habeas corpus” was invoked to secure the release of wild animals in human captivity. However, in the US the two recent cases failed. A New York court, earlier this month has ruled that Tommy chimpanzee was not legally a person and is therefore not entitled to human rights.


And in 2011, a lawsuit against SeaWorld to free five wild-captured orca whales was dismissed by the San Diego court.

I would have thought that any court would simply refer to the “Human” part in human rights, and keep the decision simple.

Not so in Argentina, where humans and apes are now considered legally equivalent in law.

Imagibe the fun the lawyers can have with that one.


– Russia Today


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  • Rod

    So how is Sandra going to get from Argentina to Brazil? I suggest would be a breach of human rights to be sent in a crate, so she’ll need a passport and airline tickets. And I assume she has expressed the desire to go. It’s certainly a breach of human rights to send her to a country she doesn’t want to go to.

  • MaryLou

    Hah – being a bit of an animal lover myself, with a marked dislike of zoo’s and aquariums, I’d be happy to change the name to “sentient being” rights, and have at it. Mind you, that;d involve getting rid of the more stupid “human rights” that we have now, like Sky TV.

    Have at it, I say!

    • mommadog

      Id be happy to swap the ape for my neighbour – the one who keeps producing and thinks sky and the housing corp house are human rights. At least Apes can fend for themselves if allowed to.

      • burns_well_eh

        Don’t get them started on the Sallies, whatever you do!

  • It does set an interesting precedent. Cattle & sheep may not be ever a quarter as smart as an ape, but they are still self aware and able to make decisions, however we eat them.

    The cats argument is a bit pointless though Cam, unless they are strictly indoor cats, they live the life they want to live, you couldn’t make them stay if they didn’t want too.

    • MaryLou

      But eating them is ok – everything has to eat, provided you’re killing them in a half decent way, and for a good reason. Those reasons would be for food, to contain pest populations or manage wild populations ie elephants with no self-restraint for their habitat. I’d even condone eating dogs and cats provided they’re treated decently up till that point.

      Since no one needs to eat the orangutan, if it can be demonstrated that she is suffering from her confinement, what’s wrong with figuring out what’s best for her and doing that?

      Edit: spelling

      • Betty Swallocks

        Well in that case, figuring out what’s best for her should surely include some weight being given to getting her to Sumatra. I understand Brazil doesn’t have much in the way of an orang-utan population, so wouldn’t she still be suffering there?

        • MaryLou

          Absolutely. I wonder if she’d be able to adapt to the wild at all now, though

          • Betty Swallocks

            I suspect not. Mind you, if she’s been in Buenos Aires for the past 20 years I imagine she’d jump at the chance to live anywhere else apart from Argentina.

    • MaryLou

      PS: Have you MET a sheep? They’re truly not very bright, and I’d seriously question whether they’re capable of making a decision. Cows, maybe… sheep – not so much

      • Sticktotheknitting

        Sheep are very intelligent when brought up as pets away from the flock. When they are part of a flock then they have a shared brain. I kept a flock of brown sheep and they were superbly intelligent but I wouldn’t go so far as to call them human.

        However if certain member of the Gweens need to do any thinking they may have to “share the brain”. lol Not sure who is using it at present….

        • MaryLou

          Huh – flashbacks to calf and lamb day as a child – maybe I just got the ones whose turn it wasn’t, to have the brain.

          As for the Greens, I think Rod and Jeannette forgot to hand them over when they departed!

      • Nige.

        Depends which way the sheep vote.

        • MaryLou

          This is true! Ask any left-winger. We’re all sheeples over here, apparently…

    • Excitedly awaiting Whodunnit

      Simple answer to roaming cats. Nail gun.

      Noisey as all hell but they stay put.

      • Excitedly awaiting Whodunnit

        Just kidding of course.

        Super glue would be better.

  • Not so in Argentina, where humans and apes are now considered legally equivalent in law.

    I wonder if that also applies to when they throw feces at people.

    • MaryLou

      Haven’t some activists done that, here in NZ?

      • caochladh

        Well, I guess you could say that the Green lunatic brings new meaning to “dumb animal”.

  • Nige.

    Absurd. So this ‘human right’ will also include access to the internet surly too. After all the left say that internet access is a human right along with water and daylight. Lucky sandy can live out her days in the Brazilian sanctuary fully clothed, drinking water, enjoying the sun….while looking for a date on lava life. .. Like humans do.

  • cows4me

    Marvelous, a country with a long and dubious history of totally ignoring human rights gets it’s legal minds working themselves into a lather over a bloody ape. This is nothing short of a Shakespearian tragedy.

  • caochladh

    My three WHWT’s have always believed they have Human Rights and what’s more, they believe they are above the law and have exemption cards for everything in between.

  • Cadwallader

    The Greenie vote will grow exponentially?

  • Rick H

    Next, they will have equal rights and be allowed to marry humans.
    Might be able to find a new mate for the orange-green australian ginger-whinger.
    She’d have as much of a clue as him.

  • metalnwood

    I wonder what it will do when the first VISA arrives in the mail for it.

    • Or to the little pack of peanuts in the first class cabin flying back to borneo

  • luke

    My feeling is there are many ‘humans’ who do not deserve human rights. I’ll bet Sandra is a gentle creature who wouldn’t dream of beheading anyone.

  • Andru

    What’s the big deal? We have already being giving human rights to incorporated companies which are just bits of paper.

    “Despite not being human beings, corporations, as far as the law is concerned, are legal persons, and have many of the same rights and responsibilities as natural persons do. Corporations can exercise human rights against real individuals and the state, and they can themselves be responsible for human rights violations.” (Wikipedia)

    And corporations are not very nice people:

    “If you did a psychological profile of the corporation, what would it look like? Self-interested, manipulative, avowedly asocial, self-aggrandising, unable to accept responsibility for its own actions or feel remorse – as a person, the corporation would probably qualify as a full-blown psychopath.” (

    Maybe we should give more apes human rights and give fewer rights to corporations.

  • Dumrse

    We observe Human Rights with the Greens and Russel Norman so why the difference with a big member of the ginger ape family.

  • Excitedly awaiting Whodunnit

    We have a lot of “humans” in this country who would rank well below any primates in humanity.

  • Excitedly awaiting Whodunnit

    Animal farm has begun…

    Watch the pigs! Nuff said.