Animals

Famed Orangutan Sandra Gets a New Home

A Brazilian nature reserve has agreed to take an orangutan who shot to fame when a court ruled she was a 'non-human' being unlawfully held at a zoo.

A Brazilian nature reserve has agreed to take in an orangutan who shot to fame when a court ruled she was a "non-human" being unlawfully held at a zoo, lawyers said Thursday.

The case of Sandra, a 30-year-old orangutan, made news around the world last December when an Argentine court ruled she had thoughts, feelings and certain basic rights, and as such was being subjected to unjust confinement at the Buenos Aires Zoo.

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The case was brought by animal rights activists who filed a "habeas corpus" writ for Sandra -- a form of legal redress against unlawful imprisonment.

It has opened a legal morass over what to do with the orangutan, who was born in captivity in Germany and has never lived outside a zoo.

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Five months into a second court case to decide her fate, the Sorocaba nature reserve in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo has now agreed to take in Sandra, said lawyer Andres Gil Dominguez, who represents the orangutan for the Argentine Association of Professionals and Lawyers for Animal Rights.

"The nature reserve will pay for her transfer and supervise her transportation," he said.

Judge Elena Liberatori, who is presiding over the current case, must give the green light for the transfer.

The Sumatran orangutan named Sandra rests in her cage in the Buenos Aires Zoo on Jan. 5, 2015.

On January 7, this shaggy little bundle of joy was delivered by Caesarean section at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center. Her mom is a 27-year-old Sumatran orangutan named Mariska, from the

Como Park Zoo & Conservatory

in Saint Paul, Minn. We thought you'd enjoy having the baby girl brought to your attention.

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It was mother Mariska's second required C-section, both of which were performed at the university's medical center. "C-sections are very rare in that there are only about a dozen recorded within the International Orangutan Studbook that has tracked more than 1,200 births in captivity throughout history," said Como Zoo's primate keeper Megan Elder.

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The new arrival weighed in at a spry 3.45 pounds.

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She and her mom certainly drew a crowd. The obstetrical team boasted more than a dozen professionals -- from the disciplines of human and animal neonatal intensive care, human maternal-fetal medicine, veterinary surgery, veterinary anesthesiology, and nutrition.

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The newborn should be proud. Her mother Mariska is considered one of the most genetically valuable female Sumatran orangutans in North America and was recommended for breeding by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Orangutan Species Survival Plan.

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The little girl of the hour was bottle fed by Como Zoo staff while her mom was recovering from the surgery. She and Mariska would soon be reunited at Como Zoo.

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About 200 orangutans are currently on exhibit in zoos throughout the U.S., Como Zoo notes. In the wild, they're found primarily in Sumatra and Borneo. Orangutan populations have tumbled downward and the species is under the threat of extinction. Commercial logging, agriculture, hunting and poaching all have contributed to the animal's decline. So it's always happy news when a baby gives a small ray of hope to a species in trouble.