Orangutan with Some Human Rights Arrives in the United States

Category: Top Stories


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. sanctuary / ˈsæŋk tʃuˌɛr i / (n) – a quiet and peaceful place that provides shelter and protection

    The animals were placed in a sanctuary to keep them safe from hunters.

  2. mistreat / mɪsˈtrit / (v) – to abuse or treat cruelly

    Many employees left the company because they were being mistreated by the management.

  3. plight / plaɪt / (n) – a bad, difficult, or an unpleasant condition or state

    The organization thinks that it can help the plight of endangered animals by raising awareness of the evils of hunting.

  4. captivity / kæpˈtɪv ɪ ti / (n) – the state of being in a place where one cannot escape or be free

    Animals that grew up in captivity act differently from animals that grew up in the wild.

  5. enclosure / ɛnˈkloʊ ʒər / (n) – a space closed by fences or walls

    The father created a temporary enclosure for the stray dogs he took home.


Read the text below.

An orangutan who rose to fame for being granted some human rights finally arrived at a sanctuary in Florida, United States.

Sandra, a 33-year-old orangutan, was allegedly being mistreated in the Argentine zoo where she had lived since 1995. An animal rights group complained about Sandra’s plight in 2015; and after a legal battle, Sandra’s transfer to the Center for Great Apes in Florida was finally authorized in 2017. However, she was only transported recently due to some delays in US permits.

The center houses other orangutans and chimpanzees that have been freed from various forms of captivity, like Sandra.

Judge Elena Liberatori made a ruling to help Sandra and declared the orangutan as Argentina’s first nonhuman person with some human rights. With the ruling, Liberatori wanted to emphasize that animals are intelligent and feeling creatures and that they should be respected.

In particular, Sandra was granted the right to life, liberty, and freedom from harm. These rights mean that nobody is allowed to kill, unreasonably imprison, or physically harm her.

Before Sandra’s transfer was approved, three international experts had proposed other options to improve the animal’s situation in Argentina. Some had recommended releasing the animal into the wild or improving her living conditions in the zoo. Since Sandra had never lived outside captivity, suddenly setting her free into the wild would have endangered her. Thus, improving Sandra’s living conditions by adding some wood and ropes for climbing to her enclosure was deemed as the best temporary solution before she was transferred to the Center for Great Apes in Florida.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think Sandra’s transfer to the sanctuary in Florida addresses her right to liberty? Why or why not?
• After reading this article, what is your opinion on giving animals some human rights? Discuss.

Discussion B

• Should animals be held in captivity? Why or why not?
• What are some welfare measures that should be in place for animals in captivity? Discuss.