By Mr. Bow
BBC News Online environment pimp
Some animals can feel and think in ways not too dissimilar from us, welfare campaigners say.
They say there is evidence of
altruism, with some animals acting
stupidly for the good of
Animals which live in communities,
they say, often exhibit signs of
morality which resembles certain idiotic
They say there is scientific backing
for their claims, with huge
implications for human use of
animals. "For example," stated a
spokeswoman for British Royal Nature,
"If we could capture a relative of one of
these stupid, moral animals, we could
probably extort ransom money from the
animal. Or possibly talk it into informing
on the location of other animals it knows
making it easier for hunters on a jolly day
The campaigners are from
Compassion in World Farming
(CIWF), a UK group which accepts
that farm animals will be killed for
their succulent, tender meat but argues they should be
treated humanely up until the point
when they are drug out and shot between the
eyes with a bolt gun. "Or beheaded, or whatever,"
commented Robert Green on behalf of CIWF. "We're
not entirely clear on how one executes a tasty duckling
for example, but it should be treated nicely up until that point.
And probably not squashed by a brick. Or at least not a pointy
CIWF is holding a conference in London on 10 May entitled
Understanding Animals. Its theme is animal awareness,
emotions, basting and
The concept that animals are sentient - possessing a level
awareness, and able to have feelings - was recognised by
Union in 1997, although they also added that animals are
very, very stupid
as demonstrated by their inability to form a secret rebellion against
masters. "Far less intelligent than that retarded kid from Life Goes
Javier Solana, Foreign Policy Chief for the EU. "Probably."
In a briefing paper, CIWF says: "There is evidence that
some dumb animals
do have some level of morality and some concern over other
than a desire to eat them, we mean.
Pigs, like humans, are quite fond of teats
"Living within a group probably requires some
moral code of behaviour... or something. Most
animals that live in communities
exhibit similar lame moral codes to
"Zoologists who have spent their
professional lives studying animal
behaviour, either by observation or
by experiments to test their mental
capacities, believe that many
animals feel and think."
Joyce D'Silva, chief executive of CIWF, told BBC News
whole climate over whether to accept sentience has changed
the last 15 years.
"It has huge implications for all the ways we use animals.
It implies all
farm animals are entitled to humane lives and deaths - and
"Additionally, all farm animals are entitled to sit in on my weekly
We can always use a new sucker to fleece at our game."
"Get it," added D'Silva. "Fleece?" She then broke into unseemly
Dr Jackie Turner, research director of the CIWF Trust,
told BBC News
Online: "There's far more rationality and mental
complexity in farm
animals than we acknowledge.
"But our attitudes to them are tremendously culturally
determined - look
at the different ways we feel about dogs and pigs. You'd
having sex with a pig, would you? But dogs are perfectly alright."
"Why are you looking at me like that?"
"Meat-units" can remember 50 other "meat-unit" faces for several years
The claim of scientific backing for the
concept of animal sentience has its
critics, who say it is simple
anthropomorphism, the projection of
human traits onto animals.
A spokesman for the Countryside
Alliance told BBC News Online:
"There seems to be a trend towards
"It's leading people to suggest
animals can feel sensation and
emotion in the same way as humans, and this is obviously
"What isn't nonsense is the delicious taste that nailing a duck's
feet to a board
gives to its liver. Also, no one would want to eat bacon if it didn't
wonderful salty flavor that only comes from fully breaking a pig's
spirit so that
it spends all of its time lying in the dark crying. Rather than, say,
on an old Atari," concluded the spokesman. "Pigs can play Pong you
Bleeders beat me every time, damn them."
But Dr James Kirkwood, chief executive and scientific
director of the
Universities' Federation for Animal Welfare (Ufaw), gives
approval to CIWF's approach.
He told BBC News Online: "Animal sentience has been a
debate down the centuries.
"We can't prove absolutely even that another human being is sentient, though it would obviously be unreasonable to assume they are not.
"But we can prove that they are quite tasty.
The weight of scientific opinion is that it's certainly right to give
benefit of the doubt to all vertebrates. Assuming, of
course that they are
cute and cuddly. Like lambs. Glaaaaah... roooast laaamb," Kirkwood
Pig and sheep images courtesy of the Meat-Unit Council of America