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Argentine Chimpanzee Receives Habeas Corpus and Moves to Sanctuary in São Paulo

04/06/2017 - 15h31

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PHILLIPPE WATANABE
SPECIAL ENVOY TO SOROCABA

At 7:18 p.m. on Wednesday, April 5, Cecilia, an Argentine female chimpanzee that lived in the zoo of the city of Mendoza, arrived at her new home: the Santuário de Grandes Primatas (Sanctuary of Large Apes) in Sorocaba (SP).

Her move was not trivial. Cecilia is the first non-human animal in the world to be granted the right to live in a sanctuary through a habeas corpus.

Argentine NGO Afada filed the request for a habeas corpus in the country's courts on the grounds that the chimpanzee was a subject of law, not an object. The animal was living in very poor conditions in the Argentine zoo.

Cecilia had been living alone since two other chimpanzees died in the last two years.

"Cecilia's mental and physical states are deteriorating deeply and she gets worse every day, her life is clearly at risk," Pablo Buompadre, the president of Afada NGO, wrote in the habeas corpus.

Buompadre also sustained that the chimpanzee was "illegally deprived of her freedom" - as her "arrest" was not sentenced by a competent authority - "she is clearly a prisoner and a slave."

The legal proceedings lasted over a year until the courts of Mendoza decided to grant the habeas corpus request and ordered Cecilia's transfer.

In the sanctuary in Sorocaba, which is not open to the public and does not house scientific studies, there are animals that lived in circuses and zoos as well as others that were born on the site.

Translated by THOMAS MUELLO

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