Orangutan granted ‘personhood’ settles into new Florida home

WAUCHULA, Fla. — A 33-year-old orangutan granted legal personhood by a judge in Argentina is settling into her new surroundings at the Center for Great Apes in central Florida.

Patti Ragan, director of the center in Wauchula, Fla., says Sandra is “very sweet and inquisitive” and adjusting to her new home. Sandra was born in Germany and spent 25 years at the Buenos Aires Zoo before arriving in Florida on Nov. 5.

“She was shy when she first arrived, but once she saw the swings, toys, and grassy areas in her new home, she went out to explore,” Ragan said. “She has met her caregivers here and is adjusting well to the new climate, environment, and the other great apes at the Center. This is the first time in over a decade that Sandra has had the opportunity to meet other orangutans, and she will meet them when she chooses. It is a new freedom for her, and one we are grateful to provide.”

Judge Elena Liberatori’s landmark ruling in 2015 declared that Sandra is legally not an animal, but a non-human person, thus entitled to some legal rights enjoyed by people, and better living conditions.

”With that ruling I wanted to tell society something new, that animals are sentient beings and that the first right they have is our obligation to respect them,” she told The Associated Press.

But without a clear alternative, Sandra remained at the antiquated zoo, which closed in 2016, until leaving for the U.S. in late September. She was in quarantine for a month at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Kansas before arriving in Florida.

At the center, Sandra joins 21 orangutans and 31 chimpanzees rescued or retired from circuses, stage shows and the exotic pet trade.

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree has been harvested

FLORIDA, N.Y. — A Norway spruce that years ago was displayed on its owner’s coffee table will soon rise in a much grander setting: the middle of Rockefeller Center.

Carol Schultz bought the sapling for the 1959 Christmas season. After displaying it in her home in the village of Florida, N.Y., she planted it in her front yard.

In 2010, Schultz and her companion Richard O’Donnell went on Rockefeller Center’s website and made the 14-ton tree’s bid for stardom.

Earlier this year, they learned it had been chosen.The 14-ton tree was cut on Thursday and lifted by crane onto a flatbed truck.It will arrive on Saturday at Rockefeller Center, where it will be hoisted and surrounded by scaffolding for the decoration process.

The lighting ceremony is on Dec. 4.

The Associated Press

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