Argentina: chimpanzee Toti’s case updated

Posted in 16/02/2023


The chimpanzee Toti’s case is old and in the beginning of this month there was a breakthrough with the publication of a sentence – not definitive, but favorable. Toti is 32 years old and was born in captivity, in Buenos Aires. He lived in the zoo in Córdoba and in 2013 was transferred to the zoo in Bulbacó, in the province of Río Negro.

For years animal rights activists and lawyers have been presenting legal resources to get him out of the Bulbacó zoo, where Toti lives very stressed, alone in a cage and in inadequate conditions. The idea is to transfer him to a sanctuary (one of the main options is the Great Apes Sanctuary of Sorocaba, in São Paulo, Brazil, affiliated to the GAP Project).

In the beginning of 2022, the Public Defender’s Office of the Province of Rio Negro presented to the Justice a Habeas Corpus petition, requesting Toti’s freedom. The judicial process defends the end of the “illegitimate deprivation of freedom of the chimpanzee”.

On 02/01/2023, after a long judicial process, the judge of the Procedural Unit Nº 17 , Dr. Ángela Sosa, signed a long 60-page sentence expressing her arguments in favor of Toti’s freedom. 

A prominent part of the sentence affirms, “To order the transfer of the chimpanzee Toti, currently housed in Bubalcó Zoo S.A., to a center and/or sanctuary for great apes. Once this ruling has become final, a team of experts suggested by the legal team will be appointed to evaluate and determine the feasibility and conditions of the transfer. Likewise, at this stage, the destination and/or center to which he will be transferred, if necessary, will be determined.” You can check the full sentence (in Spanish) here – sentencia (27).

This historic ruling for a great ape is not yet final, because the zoo has made an appeal. Even so, it represents an advance, in the sense of making official and register legal arguments in favor of decent conditions for non-human animals living in captivity.

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