Monday, 9 September 2013

After 2,500 Studies, It's Time to Declare Animal Sentience Proven (Op-Ed)

Marc Bekoff, emeritus professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, is one of the pioneering cognitive ethologists in the United States, a Guggenheim Fellow, andco-founder with Jane Goodall of Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. This essay is adapted from one that appeared in Bekoff's columnAnimal Emotions in Psychology Today. He contributed this article to LiveScience's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

In June, during a series of lectures I presented in Germany, a number of people asked questions of the sort, "Isn't it about time we accept that animals are sentient and that we know what they want and need? Shouldn't we stop bickering about whether they are conscious, feel pain and experience emotions?"

Of course, this isn't the first time I've heard those questions, and my answer is always a resounding, Yes. Scientists do have ample, detailed, empirical facts to declare that nonhuman animals are sentient beings,and with each study, there are fewer and fewer skeptics.

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