Court declares Orangutan is a ‘Non-Human Person’

Here is some good news to begin the new year though this story was doing the rounds before Christmas.

A ground breaking decision has been made by a court in Argentina which has recognised that an Orangutan is a ‘Non-Human Person’.


BUENOS AIRES, Dec 21 (Reuters) – An orangutan held in an Argentine zoo can be freed and transferred to a sanctuary after a court recognized the ape as a “non-human person” unlawfully deprived of its freedom, local media reported on Sunday.

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

In a landmark ruling that could pave the way for more lawsuits, the Association of Officials and Lawyers for Animal Rights (AFADA) argued the ape had sufficient cognitive functions and should not be treated as an object.

The court agreed Sandra, born into captivity in Germany before being transferred to Argentina two decades ago, deserved the basic rights of a “non-human person.”

“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,” the daily La Nacion newspaper quoted AFADA lawyer Paul Buompadre as saying.

Please read more of the article:
Court Rules Orangutan Held In Argentina Zoo Is ‘Non-Human Person’ And Can Be Freed,
By Richard Lough

This is wonderful news and hopefully the beginning of the recognition that animals are sentient beings, non human persons with rights concerning their own lives, with the right to freedom and protection from exploitation and abuse.

It is unfortunate to say the least that courts in the USA could not grant the same rights to the animals mentioned in the above article, namely Tommy the chimpanzee, privately owned in New York state, ruling the chimp was not a “person” entitled to the rights and protections afforded by habeas corpus or the orca Wales at Seaworld whom PETA claimed were treated like slaves by Seaworld whom they filed a law suit against and which a San Diego court dismissed.

Note the following  interesting comment in the comments section of the above article: I wish the U.S. was as forward thinking and progressive as Argentina is. But we don’t even consider minorities as sentient beings deserving of rights- like not being killed for being black.

Indeed this is true and we have a long way to go in establishing the rights of both human and non human animals but this is a significant step forward and welcomed by animals rights advocates the world over.

Related Links

Is An Animal A Person?

“Popular use of the term “person” is often used interchangeably with “human,” however this is not strictly accurate. This is an incredibly pertinent question to any discussion of animal rights.

Legally speaking a “person” includes corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals. The legal significance of personhood is that it implies freedom, rights and ultimately respect. Worldwide, animals as generally regarded as property – not only culturally but legally.”

“Every animal is a unique individual – its personality shaped by its genes, its environment and its life experiences. Just as we are.”

Extracts from the article Is An Animal a Person?
Read more:


Dolphins deserve same rights as humans, say scientists

“Dolphins should be treated as non-human “persons”, with their rights to life and liberty respected, scientists meeting in Canada have been told.

Experts in philosophy, conservation and animal behaviour want support for a Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans.

They believe dolphins and whales are sufficiently intelligent to justify the same ethical considerations as humans.

Recognising their rights would mean an end to whaling and their captivity, or their use in entertainment.”


“Ethics expert Prof Tom White, from Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, author of In Defence of Dolphins: The New Moral Frontier, said dolphins were “non-human persons”.

“A person needs to be an individual. If individuals count, then the deliberate killing of individuals of this sort is ethically the equivalent of deliberately killing a human being.”

Extracts from the article Dolphins deserve same rights as humans, say scientists
Read More



2 thoughts on “Court declares Orangutan is a ‘Non-Human Person’

    • Indeed yes you are so right! Animals are individuals, anyone who has regular contact with animals knows this. Each has his or her own character, their own way of being, each is therefore a person.

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