Woo hoo!

29 09 2015

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Animal sentience in the media

23 09 2015

There are moves in Quebec to declare animals sentient. It’s not quite clear which animals are included (insects too?), and some of the coverage makes the scope sound implausibly large: “Also forbidden: submitting an animal ‘to a treatment that will cause death . . . ‘” says the Globe & Mail. So Quebec’s to outlaw killing animals for food, research or pest control? I just doubt it somehow.

But still, anything that helps protects animals that aren’t very well covered by existing laws, and that puts the emphasis on animals’ feelings more than human motives, is a gScreen Shot 2015-09-23 at 2.03.16 PMood thing.

I got interviewed about it yesterday (along with others), and here’s the piece on the National Post‘s front page today.

A few weeks ago I was also interviewed on animal sentience, but in much more depth (for an intellectually challenging hour in the university’s radio studio). This was for a forthcoming BBC Radio 4 series created by my brilliant colleague Christine Nicol. Called “Would You Eat an Alien?”, it’ll be reviewing the scientific and ethical issues around sentience, and I think it’s going to be very good indeed.

Making hens feel like they’re in a forest

23 09 2015

For his PhD, Misha plans to test the hypotheses that enriching hens reduces their flightiness, startle reflexes and negative judgment biases, and that these three effects covary.

Having extensively researched the welfare benefits of natural stimuli (e.g. plants and natural views) he wants to try some innovative enrichments too, including this one: an amazing dispenser he made himself, that’s designed to spray a puff of plant-y ‘green odour’ (stress-reducing for rats and humans) whenever hens come near.  (The motion detector cost $10, cannabalised from a Glade “Sense and Spray” air freshener!)


Postcard from Japan

23 09 2015

Maria‘s just back from Japan, after 10 days or so away. Despite crazy jetlag (the time difference: a full 12 hour flip) it sounds like her talk at the ISAE went well (on how mink would like to feed), and even more, it sounds like she loved loved loved Japan.


I heart One Direction

16 09 2015

Well I don’t, but I did love this story about apostrophes.

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Happiness is…

16 09 2015

.. returning home from a good defence to find this (one being the Original Daphne):


Temple Grandin protest: the video

16 09 2015

The activists who protested Temple’s visit have put their interactions with her up on line.

I think we’re going to see more of this, and it raises two very challenging problems to crack: 1) Is it right to kill animals, even if you do it humanely? Most of us in the field are rubbish at this question. 2) How should you engage effectively with emotional adversaries, while being captured on film? (Or should you actually avoid this at all costs?)