Ecuador’s highest court has ruled in favor of wild animals. A case for Estrellita, a woolly monkey taken from the wild and kept as a pet, is the first case to apply the country’s “nature’s rights” law to animals.
Ana Beatriz Burbano Proaño, a librarian, kept Estrellita as a pet for 18 years, and the monkey was first removed from the wild at just 1 month old. Owning wild animals as pets in Ecuador is illegal. As reported by Inside Climate News, the monkey was seized by authorities in 2019 and placed in a zoo, where she died a month later.
Burbano Proaño filed a habeas corpus petition on Estrellita’s behalf, asking that the monkey be returned to her and asking the court to rule that the monkey’s rights were violated when she was moved. The court ruled that Estrellita and other wildlife had rights and that those rights had been violated by both Burbano Proaño and the government.
“What makes this decision so important is that now the rights of nature can be used to benefit small groups or individual animals,” said Kristen Stilt, a Harvard law professor, as reported. Inside Climate News. “It makes nature’s rights a much more powerful tool than what we may have seen before.”
Ecuador was the first country to incorporate the rights of nature into its constitution, and this case was the first to apply the law to wild animals. The 7-2 verdict further defined the scope of the National Nature Rights Act and ensured that animals are included.
“This verdict elevates animal rights to the level of the constitution, Ecuador’s highest law,” said environmental lawyer Hugo Echeverría. said in a press release. “While the rights of nature were enshrined in the constitution, it was unclear prior to this ruling whether individual animals could benefit from the rights of nature and be considered rights holders as part of nature. Court declared that animals are the subject of rights protected by the rights of nature.
The tribunal noted that “Wild species and their individuals have the right not to be hunted, fished, captured, collected, extracted, preserved, preserved, trafficked, traded or traded” and that these creatures have individual value unrelated to their usefulness to humans .
The ruling was also made for the Department of Environment to create more protections for wild animals, especially those subject to seizure or restraint, within 60 days of the ruling.