Ecuador becomes first country to give legal rights to wild animals

Ecuador becomes first country to give legal rights to wild animals

Ecuador becomes first country to give legal rights to wild animals Image Credit: Wikimedia

Ecuador has become the first country in the world to give legal rights to wild animals. The decision comes after an investigation into the death of Estrellita, a woolly monkey who was taken from the wild and kept as a pet. 

Ana Beatriz Burbano Proaño, a librarian in Ecuador, took Estrellita from the wild when she was only a month old. She then kept her as a pet for 18 years. In 2019 Estrellita was seized by authorities, as owning wild animals as pets is illegal in Ecuador. Estrellita was then relocated to a zoo where she died a month later. 

Proaño took the authorities to court for seizing the monkey, but the court ruled that Estrellita and all other wild animals do have legal rights, and they were violated by both Proaño and the authorities.

The importance of this ruling was highlighted by Hugo Echeverria, an environmentalist, who in a press release stated: “This verdict raises animal rights to the level of the constitution, the highest law of Ecuador. While rights of nature were enshrined in the constitution, it was not clear prior to this decision whether individual animals could benefit from the rights of nature and be considered rights holders as a part of nature”

Harvard law professor Kristen Stilt told Inside Climate News: “What makes this decision so important is that now the rights of nature can be used to benefit small groups or individual animals.”That makes rights of nature a far more powerful tool than perhaps we have seen before.” 

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Written by

Joshua Manning

Originally from the UK, Joshua is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at