For those who need scientists to say it, it was already said out loud in 2012: http://fcmconference.org/img/CambridgeDeclarationOnConsciousness.pdf
Of course animal caregivers don’t really need to hear it from the scientists as they (the animal caregivers) already know this, intuitively, through their daily interactions with animals.
But here’s are some facts for reflection: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ingrid-newkirk/one-of-many-animals_b_1836537.html
…in the just-released Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness, witnessed by Stephen Hawking, a prominent group of scientists has declared that humans are not unique in ways that matter. Says the panel, “Non-human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these [same] neurological substrates [as human beings].” Yes, they stand on their toes or tentacles, snatch their offspring from their arms or their arboreal nests, and they feel the same way about it as would you or I. The question is, how is this knowledge to inform our behavior? After all, shouldn’t it?
Of course, hundreds of studies have already demonstrated animals’ logical, mathematical, linguistic, and emotional intelligence. For example, for years we blithely believed that humans were the only species to use tools, until researchers documented that wasps were using pebbles as hammers, octopuses were carrying coconut shells as portable hiding places, crows were using sticks to dig in the ground for grubs and many other examples. The mathematical abilities of fish have proved to be on a par with those of monkeys, dolphins and bright young human children.
We know that elephants flirt with each other and gather to grieve over the loss of a loved one, that cows shed tears, and that monkeys have refused to pull a chain to access their only source of food if doing so caused another monkey, even a stranger, to experience a painful electric shock. In that famous study, one monkey starved and went without water for nearly two weeks to avoid hurting his fellow. When the experiment was repeated, other monkeys also chose to starve rather than giving shocks to another monkey. A similar study done with human subjects showed that 65 percent of people continued to give other people increasingly strong electric shocks if an experimenter simply told them to do so. It’s not the monkeys who need their heads examined!
And I really like this:
Perhaps measuring animal intelligence by comparing it to human intelligence isn’t the best litmus test. As Mark Twain once said, “It is just like man’s vanity and impertinence to call an animal dumb because it is dumb to his dull perceptions.”
The above is probably something that every animal lover and caregiver will attest to and agree wholeheartedly!
But on a more serious note:
Can any human speak even one word of another animal’s language? No, but perhaps it’s better that way, because if we could speak to them, how would we explain our systematic use and abuse of all the other species?
So, animals are conscious beings, capable of understanding cause-and-effect relationships, forming abstract thoughts, solving problems, using language, making tools, exhibiting long-term memory, and showing empathy, in many cases with skills that are superior to those of humans. But more importantly, animals can comprehend when they are being abused and killed, and they feel anxiety, fear and pain, just as humans do.
It’s interesting that one of the definitions of the word “human” is “sympathetic.” More and more people are beginning to show that they understand why that is important.
What we can do:
Very simply, be kind to animals. They deserve kindness just as we do. They feel pain just as we do.
Be an animal caregiver, if you can. If you cannot, support charities and people who do it.
Eat less meat. Everyone can do this, if they want to.