Grant Orangutan the Right to Freedom


Target: Paul Buompadre, attorney with the Association of Officials and Lawyers for Animal Rights

Goal: Call on the Buenos Aires zoo to release Sandra, an orangutan whose legal right to freedom has been upheld

Orangutans are among the world’s most intelligent creatures. The word orangutan literally means “forest man” in the Malay and Indonesian languages. It should therefore come as no surprise that a life in captivity, even under the best of circumstances, can be disastrous for a ape’s mental and physical well-being.

The Association of Officials and Lawyers for Animal Rights (AFADA) sued to free a captive orangutan exhibited at Argentina’s Buenos Aires zoo. The group argued that the ape, named Sandra, was so intelligent that keeping her locked up amounted to unlawful imprisonment. A judge agreed and in a landmark ruling ordered that Sandra can be released to a sanctuary to live out the rest of her days in relative peace. Paul Buompadre, an attorney with AFADA, told La Nacion newspaper that the ruling “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 orangutan spent nearly three decades in captivity, but has now won her freedom thanks to the dedication of Buompadre and others working with the association.

Activists have tried in the past to secure the rights of “non-human persons” for other animals in captivity. This marks the first time such efforts were successful, and could help transition humankind away from treating intelligent beings like objects. Applaud AFADA for its efforts on behalf of Sandra.


Dear Mr. Buompadre,

Sandra, a gentle orangutan who lived for two decades at the Buenos Aires zoo, has been granted the right to freedom thanks to you and others working with AFADA. Congratulations on this inspiring success!

The zoo’s head biologist said in an interview with La Nacion that, “When you don’t know the biology of a species, to unjustifiably claim it suffers abuse, is stressed or depressed, is to make one of man’s most common mistakes, which is to humanize animal behavior.” Yet suffering is not unique to human beings. A life being gawked at in cramped and unnatural surroundings can understandably harm an animal’s well being–especially when that animal is as intelligent as Sandra.

Much thanks to you and to all those at AFADA who worked tirelessly to help Sandra win her freedom. May this case advance the rights of animals everywhere.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Kabir Bakie via Wikimedia Commons

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