Q: Are animals conscious?
In July, 2012, a group of scientists gathered at the University of Cambridge for the first annual Francis Crick Memorial Conference. Crick, who was the co-discoverer of DNA, spent the latter part of his career studying consciousness. The outcome of the meeting was the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness which concludes that “non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Non-human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.”
Are animals sentient?
- Sentience of chickens
- Sentience of cows
- Sentience of pigs
- Sentience of turkeys
- Sentience of sheep
- Sentience of fish
Do animals feel pain?
According to the U.S. National Research Council Committee on Recognition and Alleviation of Pain in Laboratory Animals pain is experienced by many animal species, including mammals and possibly all vertebrates.
According to Swiss scientist Gennady Ermak, “an overview of the anatomy of the nervous system across the animal kingdom indicates that not only vertebrates but also most invertebrates have the capacity to feel pain.” (Source).
Indications that an animal is experiencing pain include behaviour such as eating less food, disruption of their normal behaviour, suppressed social behaviour, unusual behaviour patterns, they may emit characteristic distress calls, experience respiratory and cardiovascular changes, as well as inflammation and release of stress hormones. (Source).
See also: ‘The surprisingly humanlike ways animals feel pain‘ – article in National Geographic.