Orangutans Are People, Too, You Know


No, seriously: non-human persons. You can’t make this stuff up:

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.”


The animal-rights nuts have been getting out of hand for a while now, but this one moves the ball. What, or who, else is a “non-human person”? Where does it stop? I can think of a few people offhand who might qualify as “non-human persons” but no monkeys, apes or orangutans.

“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…

Naturally, the species-centric U.S. lags behind our neighbors to the south —

A U.S. court this month tossed out a similar bid for the freedom of ‘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.

The next thing you know, people will be talking to their cats and calling their dogs “children.” Wait — what?


Meanwhile, folks who think chimps are just really hairy people might do well to remember this story.



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