Today’s guest is Patti Ragan, founder and president of the Center for Great Apes in southcentral Florida. The Center is a sanctuary for orangutans and chimpanzees, many of whom were in the entertainment industry. Others were personal pets or research subjects. It is currently home to 27 orangutans and 42 chimpanzees and is the only accredited sanctuary for orangutans in North America. A couple of the most well-known residents are Bubbles, a chimpanzee once owned by Michael Jackson and Sandra, an orangutan who, through a legal challenge in Argentina, is the first in the world to be legally recognized as having personhood rights. We talked about some of the legal cases that have brought around recognizing the legal rights of non-human animals in episode 14 Animals in the News so you might want to check that out and we will say more about that in future episodes.
Patti gives us a great overview of orangutans and chimps as ape species and she shares stories of some of the residents at the Center. She also provides details regarding the extraordinary facility she and her team of staff and volunteers have created over the past 30 years. Further, she gives us reason to be hopeful for the day when centers such as hers are no longer required because there will no longer be captive great apes needing sanctuary.
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Sandra’s court decision in Argentina:
Tommy’s court decision in New York: