Chile dismisses first ever human legal rights case for captive orangutan

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Chile dismisses first ever human legal rights case for captive orangutan Credit: Milan Zygmunt/

Chile’s Interspecies Justice Foundation legal rights case for a captive orangutan was dismissed, by the San Miguel Court, as reported on Monday, August 1.

Update (August 1) Speaking on the incident the association stated:

“From Fundación Justicia Interespecie we regret yesterday’s Court of Appeals of San Miguel dismissal of the case in connection with the lawsuit filed on behalf of Sandai.”

“The Court has refused to hear the case and our arguments. We wonder if the Court of Appeals also was unwilling to examine and consider the reports submitted by 21 international experts in the fields of law,
philosophy, primatology and biology, who asked to be considered as amicus curiae – or friends of
the Court – and who advocate for Sandai’s freedom as a non-human person and subject of rights.”

“Among these authorities, the prestigious American biologist and ethologist Marc Bekoff has declared that “Sandai’s body language reflects a depressed, defeated and vulnerable emotional and psychological state, which is normal if we consider the conditions in which Sandai is being kept.”

“And it is very likely that in the future he may self-harm as well as develop stereotypes”. Due to the above, the legal team of the Foundation is studying the steps to follow with the intention of continuing in this unprecedented process, in order to obtain a favourable decision for Sandai, considering his best interest as an individual.”

Original  (July 28) Chile’s Interspecies Justice Foundation has filed a legal rights case for a captive orangutan, in the nation’s first “Habeas Corpus” in favour of a non-human animal.

Chile’s first ever human legal rights case comes for a captive Bornean orangutan called “Sandai” who is held captive in Chile’s Buin Zoo.

The action, brought before the Court of Appeals of San Miguel, is directed against SAG and Buin Zoo, and seeks to have Sandai declared a non-human person, subject of rights, and to agree to his transfer to a large primate sanctuary in Brazil.

The move is supported by 21 international animal rights experts, and is asking the Court to grant Sandai’s release.

A “Habeas Corpus” is a recourse in law through which a person can report an unlawful detention or imprisonment to a court, leading to the court ordering the prisoner to be brought before a tribunal to judge whether the detention is lawful.

Thus, Chile has joined the South American trend of filing legal actions for the recognition of animal rights, such as the cases of the chimpanzee “Suiza” in Brazil in 2005, of the orangutan “Sandra” in Brazil in 2014, the chimpanzee “Cecilia” in Argentina in 2016 and the monkey “Estrellita” in Ecuador 2022.

In Ecuador the decision came after an investigation into the death of Estrellita, a woolly monkey who was taken from the wild and kept as a pet. 

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