Sandra, orangutan granted ‘personhood’, turns 34

Argentinean judge Elena Liberatori in a landmark ruling in 2015 declared that Sandra is legally not an animal, but a non-human person. (The Center for Great Apes via AP)
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Updated 16 February 2020

Sandra, orangutan granted ‘personhood’, turns 34

  • Prior to coming to Florida, Sandra had lived alone in a Buenos Aires zoo
  • Judge Elena Liberatori’s landmark ruling in 2015 declared that Sandra is legally not an animal, but a non-human person

WAUCHULA, Florida: A orangutan named Sandra, who was granted legal personhood by a judge in Argentina and later found a new home in Florida, celebrated her 34th birthday on Valentine’s Day with a special new primate friend.
Patti Ragan, director of the Center for Great Apes in Wauchula, Florida, says Sandra “has adjusted beautifully to her life at the sanctuary” and has befriended Jethro, a 31-year-old male orangutan.
Prior to coming to Florida, Sandra had lived alone in a Buenos Aires zoo. Sandra was a bit shy when she arrived at the Florida center, which is home to 22 orangutans.
“Sandra appeared most interested in Jethro, and our caregivers felt he was a perfect choice because of his close age, calm demeanor, and gentle nature,” Ragan said in a news release. “Sandra still observes and follows Jethro from a distance while they are in the process of getting to know and trust each other. But they are living harmoniously in the same habitat spaces as they continue to gain confidence in their relationship.”
Judge Elena Liberatori’s landmark ruling in 2015 declared that Sandra is legally not an animal, but a non-human person, and thus entitled to some legal rights enjoyed by people, and better living conditions.
“With that ruling I wanted to tell society something new, that animals are sentient beings and that the first right they have is our obligation to respect them,” she told The Associated Press.
But without a clear alternative, Sandra remained at the antiquated zoo, which closed in 2016, until leaving for the US in late September. She was in quarantine for a month at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Kansas before arriving in Florida.
On Friday, Sandra celebrated her birthday, complete with pink signs and wrapped packages. Jethro, who was once in the entertainment business, attended the party.


Keepers, animals keep each other company at Cairo’s shuttered zoo

Updated 03 April 2020

Keepers, animals keep each other company at Cairo’s shuttered zoo

  • The zoo in Giza, across the Nile from central Cairo, is one of the few green spaces in the usually bustling city of 23 million and is often crammed with families
  • Egypt, like other countries, is trying to curb the spread of coronavirus cases by restricting people’s movements

CAIRO: The chimpanzees, lions and hippos of Cairo’s zoo are getting a rare spell of peace and quiet alone with their keepers as a closure caused by the coronavirus outbreak keeps the public away.
The zoo in Giza, across the Nile from central Cairo, is one of the few green spaces in the usually bustling city of 23 million and is often crammed with families seeking diversion from the grind of daily life.
Now keepers do their rounds at the zoo along deserted pathways, feeding animals apples and bananas through the railings of their cages and bringing fresh hay to their enclosures.
Veteran keeper Mohamed Aly holds hands with 12-year-old chimpanzee Jolia in a gesture of friendship, while noting that keepers are careful about cleaning hands between rounds.
“I’ve been here about 25 years,” he said. “(I’ve spent) my whole life with them, they may not speak but they feel everything, and of course all of them are looking for people to play with.”
Egypt, like other countries, is trying to curb the spread of coronavirus cases by restricting people’s movements. It has imposed a night curfew and shut schools, mosques and tourist sites including the pyramids. It has so far confirmed more than 850 cases of the virus, including more than 50 deaths.
The zoo, which has been closed along with others in Egypt since March 18, is sprayed with disinfectant twice a week.