Sandra was born on February 14, 1986, at the Rostock Zoologischer Garten in Germany. She and a young male named Max were sent to Buenos Aires in 1994. Sandra lived with other orangutans in the early years there and then spent a short time at the Cordoba Zoo before returning to the Buenos Aires Zoo in 2008. Since 2008, Sandra has lived alone at the Buenos Aires Zoo until it closed and when she was moved to the U.S. in September 2019.
In November 2019, Sandra arrived at the Center for Great Apes where she will have the opportunity to meet other orangutans and have permanent sanctuary care.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sandra:
What does “personhood” mean for a great ape?
The “personhood” case for Sandra was initiated and pursued by an animal welfare group in Argentina called AFADA (the Spanish acronym for the Association of Officials and Lawyers for Animal Rights). In the court decision, Sandra was granted legal personhood with the right to be respected as a sentient being. The court ruled that she was not allowed to remain on exhibit in the zoo.
Does Sandra still have legal personhood in the United States?
Since it was an Argentine court ruling, when Sandra left Argentina, she lost her status of legal personhood. However, we consider that all great apes have the right to be respected as sentient beings.
Why did Sandra leave Buenos Aires?
The Buenos Aires Zoo closed in 2016. It is being dismantled and converted into Ecoparque, a facility for Argentine native wildlife, and is set to open in 2023. Additionally, the court ordered Sandra to be moved to a sanctuary, and there are no orangutan sanctuaries in Argentina.
How was the Center for Great Apes chosen for Sandra?
The Center for Great Apes is the only accredited sanctuary for orangutans in the Americas. Judge Elena Liberatori who granted Sandra legal personhood status in Argentina reviewed opinions from biologists, veterinarians, and orangutan experts and asked the sanctuary to accept Sandra.
What kind of orangutan is Sandra?
Sandra was born in captivity and is a hybrid mix of Bornean and Sumatran orangutans.
What are the threats to orangutans?
Today, wild orangutans are being decimated in their native ranges in Borneo and Sumatra due to poaching, mining, and farming of palm oil causing habitat loss. Additionally around the world, orangutans are still used as entertainment objects at venues where they dress up, have boxing matches, or pose for paid photos with tourists.