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The Most 2019-Ready Headline Ever: 'Orangutan Granted Legal Personhood Becomes a Florida Woman'

Source - An orangutan who was granted legal personhood in a landmark 2015 ruling has moved into the Center for Great Apes in central Florida.

Judge Elena Liberatori's ruling declared that Sandra was legally not an animal, but a non-human person. That meant the orangutan was entitled to some legal rights enjoyed by humans, plus better living conditions, reports The Miami Herald.

"With that ruling I wanted to tell society something new, that animals are sentient beings and that the first right they have is our obligation to respect them," Liberatori said.

The 2015 ruling came after animal rights campaigners filed a habeas corpus petition—a document more typically used to challenge the legality of a person's detention or imprisonment—on behalf of the orangutan.

When I was a kid, I don't remember how I imagined what the world would be like in 2019. Maybe I lacked the imagination or it just seemed so far off that I didn't bother to visualize it. I vaguely remember hoping I'd have a nice wife and kids of my own who would make me proud and we'd live in a house in the suburbs. And I've way exceeded those. I'm sure part of me was hoping I'd be a tuxedo-clad international secret agent with a jet pack and a license to kill scoring heavily with exotic, thick-accented babes whom I can't trust and they don't know if they can trust me. Which was a swing and a miss, but I'm not ruling it out. 

One thing I know for sure no one imagined was this. That I can promise you. No matter how many times they ran the "Planet of the Apes" movies on local UHF (look it up and by all means watch the Weird Al Yankovich movie of the same name and thank me later) not one of us in the days of corduroy pants and Member's Only jackets saw it coming that by the end of the second decade of the 21st century we'd be making orangutans into people. Excuse me, "non-human persons." 

I mean, sure, you'd hoped we'd figure out a way to be nicer to animal. To keep animals from going extinct like in "Star Trek VI: The One Where They Go to 1980s San Francisco and a Skinhead Gives the Finger to Kirk and Spock on a City Bus" or to test hairspray without blasting massive doses of it into the eyes of cute bunnies. To stop destroying the habitats of orangutans or tigers or any other wild creatures. But granted apes personhood? Definitely not. But then, words back then had definitions. They meant what they were supposed to mean. You couldn't just define whatever you wanted using whatever language you felt like and still have an expectation of being understood. So when you said "person," there wasn't an English speaking being anywhere who didn't immediately and definitively know that you were using it as a synonym for "human."

I'm not saying it's a good or a bad thing. I'm just trying to keep up as much as someone who never expected this can. And as such, I've got questions. For instance, does this apply just to this orangutan, or all of them? What about other primates? Do they all automatically become "persons" too, or do they each have to hire a lawyer and petition a court on a case-by-case basis? And what about other critters? Is a dog a person? A cat? Do they have to walk on their hind legs and have opposable thumbs? Or would that constitute Bipedalism? And does this orangutan have to actually do anything, to earn this status? Does she have to pass a personhood test or swear an oath or file a tax return? I'm not fighting the idea mind you. I'm dealing with reality on reality's terms. I just want a handle on what that reality is like. 

The good news is, the put this person in the right place. If you've been an orangutan you're whole life and now you're going to be a newly minted person anywhere, Florida is definitely the best fit as you transition. I have every confidence that within a year or two, she'll be living in a doublewide filled with Dreamcatchers and Stars & Bars flags, own an AR-15, run a thriving prescription pill resale business and spend her daytimes watching TV judge shows. In fact, I look forward to the wacky news stories that we'll be finding every day under the hashtag #FloridaOrangutanPerson. 

Now excuse me while I got to church and pray for God to send a giant meteor Earth's way.