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Orangutan Granted Human Status Settles Into New Florida Home

In 2015, Judge Elena Liberatori ruled that Sandra is legally not an animal, but a non-human person with rights

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    Orangutan Granted Human Status Settles Into New Florida Home
    Natacha Pisarenko/AP
    In this Sept. 13, 2016, photo, Sandra the orangutan sits in her enclosure at an eco-park, formerly the Palermo zoo, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The definition of orangutan is written in a sign outside Sandra’s cage: from the Malay expression meaning “person of the forest.” But Sandra remains behind bars in a concrete cell in Buenos Aires and may never see the rainforest of her ancestors.

    A 33-year-old orangutan granted legal personhood by a judge in Argentina is settling into her new surroundings at the Center for Great Apes in central Florida.

    Patti Ragan, director of the center in Wauchula, Florida, says Sandra is "very sweet and inquisitive" and adjusting to her new home. She was born in Germany and spent 25 years at the Buenos Aires Zoo before arriving in Florida on Nov. 5.

    In 2015, Judge Elena Liberatori ruled that Sandra is legally not an animal, but a non-human person with rights. She remained at the zoo, which closed in 2016, until leaving for the U.S.

    At the center, Sandra joins 21 orangutans and 31 chimpanzees rescued or retired from circuses, stage shows and the exotic pet trade.