Ecuador’s Constitutional Court Rules Animals are Protected by Rights of Nature

Ecuador enshrined the Rights of Nature (RoN) in its Constitution in 2008. This sparked a question of whether RoN applied to ecosystems or biosystems, or to individuals within nature. Now, for the first time, Ecuador’s Constitutional Court has explicitly ruled that individual animals are protected by the RoN and that the protections include the free development of animal behaviour. This decision comes from the 27 January 2022 decision in the Mona Estrellita case (Estrellita the Monkey case). The case concerned a chorongo monkey named Estrellita, who was seized by the Ministry of Environment from a fifty-seven year-old librarian who described herself as Estrellita’s mother and caretaker. She attempted to bring an application for habeas corpus but unfortunately Estrellita died a few days after being transferred from a wildlife sanctuary to an eco-zoo. The Constitutional Court nevertheless chose this case as an opportunity to develop binding jurisprudence on the RoN as including the rights of the animal individuals who make up part of nature. Read the original case here (Spanish), and an article here (English).