Patti Ragan, director of Sandra’s new home, claims that the orangutan is adjusting to the center, which also houses 21 orangutans and 31 chimpanzees. All the center’s inhabitants have been rescued or retired from stage shows, labs, circuses, and the exotic pet trade.
“She was shy when she first arrived, but once she saw the swings, toys, and grassy areas in her new home, she went out to explore,” Ragan said.
According to Ragan, Sandra is “sweet and inquisitive” and doesn’t appear to be having troubling adjusting to her new home.
“This is the first time in over a decade that Sandra has had the opportunity to meet other orangutans, and she will meet them when she chooses. It is a new freedom for her, and one we are grateful to provide.”
Per CNN, Sandra was declared a “nonhuman being” after living in captivity for 25 years at the Buenos Aires Zoo. The ruling — sparked by animal rights activists — granted the orangutan basic human rights, including freedom, life, and a guarantee of no physical or psychological harm. As there are no orangutan sanctuaries in Argentina, Sandra was quarantined in Sedgwick County Zoo following the ruling and then arrived in Florida.
Sandra, an orangutan who won the same legal rights as humans, is being moved to a wildlife refuge in Florida.— AJ+ (@ajplus) September 30, 2019
She spent ~20 years locked in a concrete cell in an Argentina zoo, but won her rights to liberty as a "non-human person" in a 2014 landmark court ruling. pic.twitter.com/8Ewuwa47Og
Ragan believes that Sandra’s fame will draw attention to the “special” and “sentient” nature of great apes, as well as the threats currently facing the species that live wildly in Borneo and Sumatra. According to Ragan, these threats including mining, logging, and palm oil farming, all of which reportedly leads to the habitat destruction responsible for the loss of “hundreds of orangutans” like Sandra.
At the time of Sandra’s ruling, experts believed that other similar rulings would follow, although this doesn’t appear to be the case.
Before the landmark ruling, Adrian Sestelo, the Buenos Aires Zoo’s head of biology, suggested that the activists pushing the decision were misled and said it is not right to compare Sandra to a human. He added that people lacking an understanding of a species’ biology and claiming it is suffering is an example of humanizing animal behavior — something he describes as “one of man’s most common mistakes.”
Orangutans belong to the family Hominidae, alongside chimpanzees, gorillas, and humans. As The Inquisitr reported, some are exploited in particularly disturbing ways. In one case, Pony, an endangered Bornean orangutan, was used in the Indonesian sex trade before being rescued and placed in the Nyaru Menteng Rehabilitation Centre.