Share this story!
In a world-first, Ecuador has become the first country ever to give legal rights to individual wild animals. This is all thanks to the woolly monkey known as Estrellita. Even though the country, back in 2008, became the first to recognize nature as a deserving right-bearing entity and the law was enshrined in the constitution, whether or not animals could benefit from it was very unclear - until now.
Little Estrellita was illegally taken from the wild to be kept as a pet for 18 years by the librarian Ana Beatriz Burbano Proaño. The authorities took Estrellita and brought her to a zoo in 2019 because owning wild animals is illegal in Ecuador. Sadly, Estrellita died a month after she was moved to the zoo.
However, before the owner became aware of Estrellitas death, she filed a case for Estrellita’s rights to be acknowledged, imploring that the monkey’s confinement was illegal and that she should be returned home. Eventually, the court ruled in favor of Ana Beatriz Burbano Proaño. The court also ruled that Estrellita's removal from the wild in the first place also was a violation of her rights.
“The verdict raises animal rights to the level of the constitution, the highest law of Ecuador,” Ecuadorian environmental lawyer Hugo Echeverría said to Euronews. green. “The Court has stated that animals are subject of rights, protected by rights of nature.”
According to the Optimist Daily, in part of the verdict, the court stated that “wild species and their individuals have the right not to be hunted, fished, captured, collected, extracted, kept, retained, trafficked, traded or exchanged.”
Other countries follow in Ecuador’s footsteps and are granted legal protection to nature through their court system or the constitution. These countries include Colombia, Mexico, Chile, New Zealand, and Panama.