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belcatya. “Ecuador Offers Authorized Rights to Wild Animals.” Belcatya, 29 Mar. 2022, Accessed 20 Apr. 2022.

In 2008, Ecuador became the first country to recognise the rights of nature. But now, it has also recognised animals’ legal rights too.

A woolly monkey named Estrellita was removed from her home at only a month old. Estrellita was then kept as a pet for the next 18 years of her life. In 2019, environmental authorities confiscated the woolly monkey as possessing a wild animal is against Ecuadorian law. Estrellita was moved to a zoo but unfortunately died after a week.

A librarian named Ana Beatriz Burbano Praoño, who was the owner of Estrellita, took legal action before knowing the monkey even died, to see if a confiscation of this manner was allowed. The judges had to take into account the scope of the country’s rights of nature provision, whether animals qualify as the subject of rights, and of course, whether Estrellita's rights were violated. The court also referred to Professor Kristen Stilt and Research Fellow Macarena Montes from the Brooks McCormick Jr. Animal Law & Policy Program at Harvard, and Steven M. Wise and Kevin Schneider, whom are attorneys of the Nonhuman Rights Project. These people submitted a joint amicus curiae (an uninvolved party allowed to assist the court with information, expertise, or insight) that argued that the rights of nature recognised by Ecuador should protect animals like Estrellita. It also argued that the impact of an individual animal can have a significant effect on the species as a whole.

Finally, in December 2021, the court ruled in Ana Beatriz Burbano Praoño’s favour and the court stated that the government had violated the monkey’s rights by forcibly confiscating and relocating her. The owner however was also found by the court to have violated the monkey’s rights as she removed Estrellita from her natural habitat at only one-month-old.

The court additionally said that “wild species and their individuals have the right not to be hunted, fished, captured, collected, extracted, kept, retained, trafficked, traded or exchanged.” Ecuador’s Ministry of the Environment was also called to create more rules to protect animals’ constitutional rights after this, and many other countries (Colombia, New Zealand, Panama, Chile, and Mexico) have granted legal protection to nature too. Are these the beginnings of a push in animal rights?


Frost, Rosie. “Ecuador Grants Wild Animals Legal Rights in Landmark Court Case.” Euronews, 1 Apr. 2022, Accessed 20 Apr. 2022.

Lai, Olivia. “Ecuador Becomes First Country to Recognise Animal Legal Rights.” - Past | Present | Future, 4 Apr. 2022,   Accessed 20 Apr. 2022.

Project, Nonhuman Rights. “Constitutional Court of Ecuador Recognizes Animal Rights in Landmark Ruling.”, 23 Mar. 2022, Accessed 20 Apr. 2022.

“The Legal Rights of Animals Recognized by Ecuador Court.” VKind, 8 Apr. 2022, Accessed 20 Apr. 2022.

Wikipedia Contributors. “Amicus Curiae.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 15 Dec. 2019,

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