Chimpanzees. Elephants. Dolphins. Perhaps dogs. These are the animals that many people, including animal advocates, envision when thinking of the “smartest” animals. However, this list, accurate as it may be, is by no means inclusive. There are in fact other animals who can hold their own in scientists’ tests for intelligence and emotion, but who are all too often overlooked simply because of the role they play in human society.
In the past several days, much attention has been riveted on a newly published document spanning nearly 200 pages. No, it isn’t the latest best seller, or the script for an award-winning film. It is Laudato Si', the latest papal encyclical on the protection of “our common home,” issued by Pope Francis. While encyclicals have historically been written with a Roman Catholic audience in mind, what makes this one unique is that it is addressed to every person on the planet. Given the pattern of Pope Francis’s embrace of and appeal to people from all walks of life to date, this inclusive call to action is hardly surprising.
“This book is so desperately needed in our movement. We need to blend passion with professionalism, and this book is going to help get us there.”
“It’s the practical handbook every activist should read.”
“This book is the definitive ‘how to’ for all animal advocates.”
These are just some of the things that have been said about Animal Impact: Secrets Proven to Achieve Results and Move the World by Caryn Ginsberg, and after reading the book, I have to agree with them!
I recently returned from Paris, where I attended the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)’s General Session of the World Assembly (24-29 May, 2015). World Animal Net is a member of the International Coalition for Animal Welfare (ICFAW). The only animal protection organisations present were World Animal Protection (as an OIE partner), ICFAW and the Brooke (both as observers). I was one of the two ICFAW delegates.
At World Animal Net, we define sentience in our forthcoming Model Animal Welfare Act as the capacity to perceive or feel things--more specifically, sentient beings share with us consciousness, feelings, emotions, perceptions – and the ability to experience pain, suffering, fear, distress and states of well-being. Animal sentience is a major underpinning for nearly all the philosophies that explain why animals and their interests deserve consideration and flies in the face of traditional Western views of animals as “automatons” who feel no pain and do not suffer, and consequently are “things” that humans can do with as they like. While animal advocates have long been criticized for their views as being based in passion and not rationality, science is now confirming what advocates have always known.
This week we are exploring the new world of crowdfunding: what it is and how to do it. To answer these questions, we reached out to innovative crowdfunding website LoveAnimals.org. The only free crowdfunding site focused exclusively on animal causes, this nonprofit was launched in 2013. Since then, it has been outperforming other crowdfunding sites, both for- and nonprofit. We spoke with them to get their insights into the world of crowdfunding for animals.
Think it’s impossible to stand up for animals at the voting booth? You may wish to reconsider. From politicians who vocally support strong animal protection legislation, to citizen-directed animal protection initiatives presented directly to the voting public, opportunities for putting the ballot to work to improve the lives of animals abound. Public discourse around animals and politics is also becoming more frequent, as illustrated by a recent conference in Bristol. There’s even a fully funded Ph.D. program that welcomes a concentration on the political representation of nonhuman interests.
As animal advocates faced with difficult and heart-wrenching problems on a daily basis, it can become all too easy to think that the people whose behavior we seek to change operate using the same type of reasoning that we do. When we begin thinking that everyone is operating using the same basic rationale it becomes increasingly difficult to understand why most people, when confronted with the same information, do not adopt the same behaviors that we ourselves have adopted.
This week WAN is highlighting the work of the International Companion Animal Management Coalition (ICAM), an organization supporting the development and use of humane and effective companion animal population management around the world. ICAM's current chair, Kate Atema, was kind enough to answer our questions.
Perhaps many of us have seen a version of this familiar story unfold on the set of a television drama. In a groundbreaking case, a chimpanzee takes the stand while his attorney uses sign language to defend his right to freedom from captivity. While the details won’t play out exactly like this in an upcoming hearing next month, something groundbreaking has happened in U.S. legal history for animals. Brought by attorneys from the Nonhuman Rights Project, a precedent-setting lawsuit seeks a “writ of habeas corpus” for Hercules and Leo, two chimpanzees currently held in a New York research institute. Advocates hope that this step will allow them to successfully challenge the chimps’ detainment while answering a fundamental question: whether nonhuman animals can be entitled to the right of bodily liberty. Last week, the nonprofit received a bit of potentially positive news after a New York judge issued an order to show cause, compelling the defendants to provide legal justification for their detainment. If the nonprofit prevails, the chimps could be moved to a sanctuary within the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance.