This orangutan is legally a ‘non-human person.’ So now she’s a Florida woman

Sandra the orangutan at her new zoo home in Wauchula, Florida.
Sandra the orangutan at her new zoo home in Wauchula, Florida. AP

This is the story of Sandra, a 33-year-old orangutan “non-human person” that was granted that status by an Argentine judge who determined that she had some of the same rights us “legal personhood” folks have.

And, apparently, that’s the right to live in Florida.

According to Fox 35, Sandra is settling into her new home at the Center for Great Apes in central Florida.

Patti Ragan, director of the center in Wauchula, Florida, told the Associated Press that Sandra is “very sweet and inquisitive” and adjusting well.

Sandy — she didn’t say whether she minded the nickname, but if it was good enough for Olivia Newton-John’s character in “Grease” we think she won’t mind —was born in Germany. She spent 25 years at the former Buenos Aires Zoo.

She arrived at her new digs in Florida on Tuesday.

At first shy but now more outgoing, Sandra likes the climate, the environment and the other resident at Great Apes, Ragan told the AP.

As for the judge who declared the orangutan a “non-human person” and not legally an animal in her 2015 ruling, Judge Elena Liberatori wanted to make the point that Sandra deserved the best possible living conditions, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

“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,” Liberatori told The Associated Press.

Sandra’s old zoo home was closed in 2016 and she finally made her way to the United States in September, quarantining at a Kansas zoo, before calling the Center for Great Apes home.

One memo to the judge, though: Aren’t humans technically animals? That’s what the Association for Psychological Science believes. And, if we aren’t, we certainly know many who qualify.

Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.
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