As reported by the Associated Press on November 7, 2019, Sandra, a 33-year-old orangutan that was granted legal personhood by a judge in Argentina has moved to the Center for Great Apes in central Florida after being quarantined at a different zoo in Kansas, upon importation.
Judge Liberatori reportedly ruled that Sandra is legally a non-human person, and is “entitled to some legal rights enjoyed by people, and better living conditions [because the Judge] wanted to tell society something new, that animals are sentient beings and that the first right they have is our obligation to respect them.”
If Sandra was declared a non-human person in Argentina—person being the notable term—what is she to be considered in the US? Presumably, she entered the US with an international health certificate for animals and not a visa or other document used for the entry of non-US citizens. She was quarantined at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Kansas, a process not typically required for humans (although there was the nurse quarantined in New Jersey after she was exposed to Ebola patients in West Africa).
It will be interesting to see what animal activist groups will make of Sandra’s status in the US. I would expect there to be an attempt to apply her status in Argentina here in the US, under an international long arm statute or similar legal argument if any apply.