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Ecuador Becomes First In The World To Give Wild Animals Legal Rights

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Ecuador Becomes First In The World To Give Wild Animals Legal Rights

Ecuador has become the first country in the world to give legal rights to wild animals. 

The highest court in Ecuador has ruled in favour of the case that focused on a woolly monkey who was was taken from its home to a zoo, where they passed just a week later.

The monkey, Estrellita, was removed from the wild at just one month old and kept as a pet by librarian, Ana Beatriz Burbano Proaño.

Estrellita stayed under Prano’s care for 18 years, however, was seized by authorities in 2019, as owning wild animals is illegal in the South American country.

Credit: Martin Lindsay / Alamy
Credit: Martin Lindsay / Alamy

After Estrellita sadly died, Proaño decided to file a habeas corpus, a legal order on behalf of the monkey, asking for the court to rule that the monkey’s rights were violated when she was relocated.

While the court did rule in favour of Estrellita, they also ruled that not only did she have her rights violated by the government, but by Proaño as well when she was removed from the wild at a young age. 

Kristen Stilt, a Harvard law professor, spoke to Inside Climate News about the importance of Ecuador's ruling.


She said: “What makes this decision so important is that now the rights of nature can be used to benefit small groups or individual animals.

“That makes rights of nature a far more powerful tool than perhaps we have seen before.” 

The 7-2 verdict ruling in favour of the wild animals means Ecuador’s ‘rights of nature’ law has further been expanded to include wild animals and further define the scope of the law itself. 

Environmental lawyer, Hugo Echeverria said in a press release: “This verdict raises animal rights to the level of the constitution, the highest law of Ecuador.

Credit: Ammit / Alamy
Credit: Ammit / Alamy

"While rights of nature were enshrined in the constitution, it was not clear prior to this decision whether individual animals could benefit from the rights of nature and be considered rights holders as a part of nature.

"The Court has stated that animals are subject of rights protected by rights of nature.”

The court noted within the case that 'wild species and their individuals have the right not to be hunted, fished, captured, collected, extracted, kept, retained, trafficked, traded or exchanged', with that particular ruling pertaining to Proaño’s ownership of Estrellita. 


The ruling also called for the Ministry of Environment to create more protections for wild animals.

A massive win for the animals of Ecuador.

Featured Image Credit: blickwinkel / Alamy. Dave Watts / Alamy.

Jayden Collins
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