By Paula Bustamante ,AFP
BUENOS AIRES — Sandra the orangutan took her newfound fame in stride Monday after an Argentine court upheld her right to be freed from a zoo, munching a melon and putting the rind on her head for the cameras. In a world first, a court ruled last week that Sandra was entitled to some of the basic rights of a human being and as such was being subjected to unjust confinement at the Buenos Aires Zoo, where she has lived for the past 20 years. But Sandra appeared unfazed by all the attention as journalists gathered outside her enclosure Monday. The 29-year-old orangutan lazily picked the seeds from a green melon as she ate it, then donned the rind as a hat atop her long reddish hair. Zoo officials said they were still scratching their heads at the court’s decision. ��This is how she’s lived for the past 20 years. It’s a large space, there are specialists who take care of her diet, monitor her health, and in general she lives in very good conditions,�� said Adrian Sestelo, chief biologist at the zoo. But that is not the way everyone sees it.
Argentina’s Association of Professionals and Lawyers for Animal Rights filed a ��habeas corpus�� writ �X a form of legal redress against unlawful imprisonment �X arguing that Sandra was a ��non-human being�� with thoughts, feelings and rights. Sandra �X who was born in a German zoo in 1986 and moved to Argentina in 1994 �X is known for her shyness at the zoo, where she often hides from sight. Animal activists had said that was a sign of depression, but Sestelo disagreed. ��It’s not true. That shows ignorance of the species’ basic biology,�� he told AFP. ��Orangutans live solitary lives. Their behavior is very relaxed, very calm,�� he said, as Sandra tugged on a green rope inside her enclosure.