Animal Emotions

Do animals think and feel?

The Sentience Mosaic: A Wonderful New Resource

A unique and interactive platform dedicated to the science of animal sentience

I am so pleased to announce that The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) has launched a most welcomed, unique, and interactive platform dedicated to the science of nonhuman animal (animal) sentience. The Sentience Mosaic sits within the Animal Mosaic, a comprehensive and interactive online resource focused on animal welfare issues and their connections to wider social change. Sentience may generally be defined as "the ability to feel, perceive, or be conscious, or to have subjective experiences."

The Sentience Mosaic is a fantastic resource for scientists, academics, students whose work impacts animals, and anyone else who is interested in the fascinating lives of the other animals with whom we share our one and only planet and our interactions with these amazing beings. The science of animal sentience is poorly understood and utilized, yet it underpins all the work that affects animals and is a growing international concern across many disciplines and sectors.

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Understanding that animals are sentient, capable of feelings such as pain and joy, means acknowledging responsibility for how they are treated, whether in agriculture, in research, as companion animals (pets), or as working animals. Recently, a group of scientists formally declared, with pomp, champagne, and media, something that we already knew, namely that other animals are conscious. And, indeed, the Treaty of Lisbon, passed by member states of the European Union that went into force on December 1, 2009, recognizes that "In formulating and implementing the Union's agriculture, fisheries, transport, internal market, research and technological development and space policies, the Union and the Member States shall, since animals are sentient beings, pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals, while respecting the legislative or administrative provisions and customs of the Member States relating in particular to religious rites, cultural traditions and regional heritage."

 

The Sentience Mosaic is an exciting and vibrant resource. It will continue to grow every month and will remain fresh and up-to-date with the latest scientific developments within the exciting field of animal sentience. Everything on the Sentience Mosaic is there to demonstrate the credibility and robust nature of this field as well as the widespread relevance it has. The Sentience Mosaic has many interactive and useful elements. The Homepage is where you can keep up to date with the latest additions to the site and watch a fantastic animation that introduces the concept of animal sentience. The Knowledge section champions the diverse and extensive field of animal sentience science. Here, you will find lots of summaries of research papers, videos demonstrating scientific research, and materials from conferences around the world. The Inspiration section features video, text and audio interviews with inspiring people working within animal sentience and those who use their understanding to better impact animals in their respective fields.

And there's much more. The Events and Debates section of the Sentience Mosaic features sentience related events and monthly virtual debates and discussions on animal sentience topics. In fact, the first virtual debate ‘What is animal sentience and why does it matter to animal welfare?’ will be on October 15 at 3pm GMT, and will feature Dr. Jonathan Balcombe and Professor Donald Broom. They will be introducing the topic of animal sentience and answering any questions you may have about this scientific field. If you miss it, don’t worry, as they will store past debates so you can visit and read what happened at whenever you can. And finally the Sentience Mosaic has a Forum where you can carry on the discussion. Here you can post comments, ask questions, or tell people about relevant events. The forum is available for anyone who is interested in the topic to connect with other like-minded professionals and broaden their scientific community.

The Sentience Mosaic is live and it will continue to grow. Later this month it will be launched in Spanish and Portuguese. The Sentience Mosaic is a really exciting and useful resource, so do check it out, post in the forum, and join their debates. The Sentience Mosaic is here to show just how important and relevant this field is.

I can't say enough about The Sentience Mosaic. Simply put, it is a much-needed, most-welcomed, incredibly ambitious, precedent setting, and wonderfully vibrant resource that deserves close attention. Please visit it now and share its existence widely. 

 

 

 

Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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