12 01 2018

I can’t quite decide how this compares with being cited by Your Brain on Porn, but Maria and I were denounced (yes, DENOUNCED!) by Marc Bekoff is this inflammatory piece just before Christmas.

Screenshot 2018-01-11 21.53.35

Marc writes, “Welfarism puts human needs first, and tries to accommodate animals within the “human needs first” framework. Well-being [in contrast] broadens the question of “what do animals want and need” beyond the welfare box, and tries to understand animal preferences from the animals’ point of view. For example, welfarism asks whether mink on a fur farm would prefer taller or shorter cages; well-being challenges the idea mink should be in battery cages on a fur farm in the first place.”

That is literally our work! And my response? Yes I ‘get’ the misgivings, but if you don’t do such research and mink farming keeps going, then you’re leaving animals in worse cages than they need to live in. Is that really the right thing to do??

Plus ironically, in many ways Marc’s a fan of welfare research.  When he writes about elephants dying prematurely in zoos, that work was led by an animal welfare scientist (me!); when he argues that 40% of zoo elephants show stereotypic behavior, who collected and analysed those data?  And who were the researchers he was so pleased found evidence of empathy in chickens, and signs of boredom in caged mink? Yep, all welfare scientists.  So it is pretty useful, our work, isn’t it? Not just disgusting apologism!  (I had a great email exchange with him about this actually, and all’s good).