Sandra the Orangutan

A court in Argentina has declared an orangutan a non-human person!

I’m really happy to hear this.  I’ve thought for a while that there ought to exist some sort of “socius” status for creatures who don’t fit into human society but possess intelligence and sentience.  A case-by-case basis isn’t my ideal, but it’s certainly much better than nothing.  Orangutans have a right to a fulfilling existence, I believe.  I only wish their natural habitats were protected thoroughly enough that they could simply be left alone there to thrive and exist.

As it is now, it’s a bit of a strange situation.  Orangutans should be free, but where can they be free?  Is it true freedom to fear for one’s life from poachers, from hunters, from loggers?  Can you be free without the very first right of the Declaration of Independence, the right to life?  How much freedom does a human being have without any way to support themselves, without any security in their life?  Is a man trapped in a lion pit “free?”  Unfortunately, orangutans’ natural habitat is under threat.  I would very much like to see their entire environment protected, but that isn’t very likely.  In the meantime, all we can usefully do is shift them from bad to better situations.  If an orangutan is knowingly unhappy in a zoo, and it’s for the benefit of everyone they he or she goes to a nature reserve, I would like to see that happen.

At the same time, though, people hold more fondness for that which they’ve personally seen.  If people don’t see orangutans face-to-face, will they care so much as their remaining habitat is destroyed?  There’s certainly no easy solution, but I hope that something is done before the orangutan goes extinct and humanity loses one of its closest and most intelligent cousins.

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3 Responses to Sandra the Orangutan

  1. kaushik55 says:

    John,
    I am inclined to think that however caring zoo keepers and circus managers are, they cannot replicate the natural forest environment. True, there are predatory and other risks in the jungle, but it still is the animal’s “known” environment. So in that sense, the Argentinian court ruling is in the right direction. I feel it is unfair to migrate an animal from its natural habitat just to satisfy our curiosity. Even when it is done by a scientist for a nobler cause, there is a chance it is not in the “best interest” of Mother Nature! Talk about dilemma !

    Like

    • johnkutensky says:

      I definitely agree that no zoo can replicate the diversity of culinary and social experience that the natural habitat can provide, but if it’s a lot safer, I think I’d prefer the zoo. From what I understand, Sandra is being sent to a nature sanctuary in Brazil, not Indonesia. Perhaps that’s the best of both worlds? Someplace safe from logging, but with a larger environment for her? Hopefully she’ll have other orangutans to socialize with.

      Like

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