Though a majority of scientists today agree that animals are sentient, that hasn’t stopped outmoded beliefs from persisting. This editorial published by Psychology Today claimed (in basic terms) that animals don’t speak, laugh, cry, think, get depressed, fall in love or have spiritual experiences. (We’ve all met people like this; the essayist isn’t alone in his beliefs.) Luckily, a few weeks later, Mark Beckoff—author, scientist and behavioral ecologist—followed up with his own essay, knocking down each one of these misguided statements.
Why do so many people continue to discount the worth of an animal’s life? Perhaps because “going there”—where your food come from, where your makeup, handbags and fancy leather couches originate—is too painful and awkward to face. But the truth about animal sentience is out there for those who will listen:
Animals today face a host of threats—to their habitats, their health, their very survival. And unfortunately, most of the problems they face are the direct result of decisions made by humankind. But even though facts such as the ones listed below can be alarming, they are also opportunities for change—and reminders that it’s not too late for us to fix things. Here are 10 such statistics, along with tips for what we can do to make things right:
7.6 million animals enter shelters each year. And every year, about 2.7 million cats and dogs are euthanized. (Source: ASPCA)
Next Monday, February 8, marks the start of the Chinese Lunar New Year—and the Year of the Monkey. How will you be celebrating?
I have a few ideas in mind, especially because monkeys are some of my favorite animals. They’re smart, cute and interesting little creatures who have much to teach us. Jane Goodall, who has made it her life’s work studying primates, including monkeys and chimpanzees, is a hero of mine; her work with animals and the environment, spanning multiple decades, is unbelievably impressive. Based on her research, she was one of first revolutionary minds to speak out and say that, yes, animals experience real emotions. (In case you missed it, here’s a piece I wrote on 7 revolutionary life lessons I learned from Jane Goodall.)