“The chimpanzee is not a thing, not an object which can be arranged as you have a car or a building.”

Judge Rules World's Loneliest Chimp Must be Freed
Credit: Courtesy of Great Ape Project

After a court ruling this weekend, Cecilia, a chimpanzee who had been living in Argentina’s Mendoza Zoo in isolated conditions, will be getting a new home among fellow primates at the Great Ape Project Sanctuary in Sorocaba, Brazil.

Judge Maria Alejandra Mauricio announced the decision, ruling that zoo chimpanzees are entitled to certain rights, the Metro reported.

“Great apes have rights and are entitled to those that are inherent to the quality of sentience,” Mauricio told Los Andes, pointing to their abilities to engage in everything from reasoning and solving problems to expressing emotions and using and manufacturing tools.

Pedro Pozas Terrados of the Great Ape Project in Spain had visited the zoo in 2014, learning of Cecilia's living conditions and speaking out against them to Argentine media. He teamed up with the Great Ape Project of Brazil and the Association of Professional Lawyers for the Rights of Animals to bring the case to court.

Mauricio said that while the rights are not the same type of rights as those for humans, they should include the ability for the animals to be born, live in, grow in, and die in environments that are “theirs according to their species” rather than being “exhibited as a work of art.”

“The chimpanzee is not a thing, not an object which can be arranged as you have a car or a building,” Mauricio said, ordering Cecilia's release to the sanctuary before the start of winter.

The zoo closed earlier this year after more than 60 animals passed away from December to May. It was the location where Arturo, called the world's saddest polar bear, was housed before passing away earlier this year.

The zoo is going through a restructuring with the help of officials in Mendoza.