Sandra the orangutan, freed from a zoo after being granted 'personhood,' settles into her new home



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WAUCHULA, FLORIDA (CNN) — A 33-year-old orangutan who was granted 'legal personhood' in Argentina has been relocated to a new home in Wauchula, Florida.

Patti Ragan, director of the Center for Great Apes where Sandra the orangutan is now living, told CNN she has been "inquisitive, calm, engaged and interested in her new surroundings" since her arrival on Tuesday.

"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 in a press release.

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

An orangutan named Sandra looks through a window at a journalist inside her enclosure at the Buenos Aires' Zoo in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Monday, Dec. 22, 2014. An Argentine court has ruled that Sandra, who has spent 20 years at the zoo, is entitled to some legal rights enjoyed by humans. The ruling would free Sandra from captivity and have her transferred to a nature sanctuary after a court recognized that the primate has some basic human rights. (Photo: Natacha Pisarenko, AP Photo.)
An orangutan named Sandra looks through a window at a journalist inside her enclosure at the Buenos Aires' Zoo in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Monday, Dec. 22, 2014. An Argentine court has ruled that Sandra, who has spent 20 years at the zoo, is entitled to some legal rights enjoyed by humans. The ruling would free Sandra from captivity and have her transferred to a nature sanctuary after a court recognized that the primate has some basic human rights. (Photo: Natacha Pisarenko, AP Photo.)

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

But one problem: there were no orangutan sanctuaries in Argentina, so Judge Liberatori asked the Center for Great Apes to take in Sandra as they are the only accredited sanctuary for orangutans in the Americas.

Sandra was sent to the Sedgwick County Zoo in Kansas for a month-long quarantine before arriving at the center in Florida, where she was promised lifetime care.

There are 22 orangutans, including Sandra, and 31 chimpanzees at the center. The apes were rescued from circuses, stage shows, roadside attraction, labs, and the exotic pet trade, the Center for Great Apes said.

In this Sept. 16, 2019 photo, the orangutan Sandra looks out from her enclosure at the former city zoo now known as Eco Parque, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 2015 Argentine judge Elena Liberatori ruled that Sandra was legally not an animal but a “non-human person,” turning the orangutan who has only known limited concrete enclosures into the focus of world attention. (Photo: Natacha Pisarenko, AP Photo.)
In this Sept. 16, 2019 photo, the orangutan Sandra looks out from her enclosure at the former city zoo now known as Eco Parque, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 2015 Argentine judge Elena Liberatori ruled that Sandra was legally not an animal but a “non-human person,” turning the orangutan who has only known limited concrete enclosures into the focus of world attention. (Photo: Natacha Pisarenko, AP Photo.)

"Her fame will help to 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 told CNN. "Habitat destruction caused by logging, mining, and palm oil farming is causing the loss of hundreds of orangutans just as smart and lovely as Sandra."

The Zoo, meanwhile, was closed down in 2016 and is now being converted into an Ecoparque, a facility for Argentine native wildlife that will open in 2023.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Alaa Elassar

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