Bill Handel

Bill Handel

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Orangutan Who Was Granted 'Legal Personhood' Finds New Home In Florida

Out of all places, yes, Florida - but this is a good Florida story!

Sandra, a 33-year-old orangutan, who was granted 'legal personhood' in Argentina has found a new home in Wauchula, Florida. While Wauchula may be a little ways from a sunny getaway at a Florida beach, Patti Regan, the director of the Center for Great Apes, says that Sandra has been "inquisitive, calm, engaged, and interested in her new surroundings."

Sandra captured the world's attention when she was at the center of a 2015 Argentina court case.

After living in captivity for 20 years at the Buenos Aires Zoo, Sandra was declared "a nonhuman being." It was an unparalleled ruling that gave Sandra basic rights including life, freedom and a premise of "no harm" either physically or psychologically.

Sandra now faced a problem: there were no orangutan sanctuaries in Argentina! She had to be relocated to the Center for Great Apes in Florida as they were the only accredited sanctuary for orangutans in the Americas.

There are currently 22 orangutans, including Sandra, and 31 chimpanzees at the center. The apes that are there were rescued from previous gigs in circuses, stage shows, roadside attractions, etc.

"[Sandra's] fame will help bring more awareness of how very special and sentient great apes are as well as the terrible threats facing their species in the wild in Borneo and Sumatra," Ragan says.

The Buenos Aires Zoo closed down in 2016, but is now being converted into an Ecoparque - a facility for Argentine native wildlife. It is set to open in 2023.

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