Animals in France: What Really Happened about Sentience?

Animals in France have new but very limited status, "living beings gifted sentience," but it's extremely limited in scope. They're still property, farm animals are not covered, and this change "only applies to pets or wild animals tamed or held in captivity. The sentience of wild animals, meanwhile, is not recognized." It's better than nothing but still lots to do.

Lonely Ants Die Young: They Don't Know What to Do When Alone

Socially isolated lose ants lose digestive functions and suffer due to this loss. They die at around six days of age, whereas group-living ants die at around 66 days of age. This study on ants shows that social isolation and health are closely related and much more research is needed in this area. It's notable that "even ants" show a negative reaction to loneliness.

Invasive "Rat Research" Should be Abolished Once and for All

Despite the fact that the federal Animal Welfare Act in the U. S. does not consider rats of the genus Rattus, and mice of the genus Mus, to be animals -- no kidding -- they surely are, and they should be protected from harm and suffering incurred in invasive and abusive research. In fact, to get this most-needed discussion going, I and others call for abolishing their use.

Killing Tigers For Money and Protecting the Wild

Two new books are essential reads for anyone who's interested in how we are negatively affecting other animals and their homes. The first, called "Blood of the Tiger," exposes the conspiracy and greed that continues to impede saving these magnificent animals, and the second, called "Protecting the Wild," implores us to rewild and to enlarge and connect protected areas.

Doing the Right Thing: An Interview with Stevan Harnad

Readers will find here a wide-ranging interview/dialogue with Dr. Stevan Harnad, the founder and former editor-in-chief of the highly influential journal called Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS). Dr. Harnad is a broad, eclectic, and thoughtful man and this discussion covers many topics including research methodologies, computers, and animal ethics.

Wolf Murder Canadian Style Continues as if It's Conservation

The Canadian government plans to kill wolves once again to save caribou. An earlier murder escapade in Alberta didn't work and there's no reason to assume this one will. They even use collared "Judas" wolves to lead shooters to more wolves. The real problem is loss of habitat due to oil and gas development and logging. Some people just like to kill other animals for fun.

Cooperative Feather Play Between an Orca and a Dolphin

Read about a playful interaction between Skana, who inspired Greenpeace, and her dolphin friend.

Odd Couples Redux: Animals Make Friends with Other Species

An essay in the New York Times by Erica Goode offers a nice review of unlikely friendships that form between members of different species. While there is a lot to learn, one thing is for sure, we no longer have to put the word friends in quotes because we're not sure if nonhumans form meaningful and enduring friendships. Indeed, this never should have been the case.

"Food Animals" Brutalized at Federally Funded "Meat Lab"

An essay in the New York Times by Michael Moss shows that animals at Nebraska's U.S. Meat Animal Research Center are engineered, harmed, and killed -- some left to die on their own -- in their reprehensible quest for profit. If you're a doubter and think this is some "radical hype" this essay will show you just how brutal "food animals" are treated in the name of science.

A Matter of Breeding: How We've Greatly Harmed BFF Dogs

A new book by Michael Brandow called "A Matter of Breeding" provides a "biting history of pedigree dogs" due to the quest for status by humans. It's surely going to rub people in many different ways, ranging from acceptance to anger, but it's an essential read for those who want to know more about how we have strongly affected the awesome beings whom many call their BFF.

Foie Gras Is Not a Non-issue: Ducks and Geese Matter

In a recent essay in the New York Times called "Let Them Eat Foie Gras," essayist Mark Bittman writes, "The lifting of the California ban against selling foie gras (the hyperfattened liver of geese or ducks, brought about by overfeeding the live animals) is pretty much a nonissue." Tell that to the ducks and geese who have food shoved down their throat to fatten them up.

Rats Like Tickling: Why Is the Animal Welfare Act So Lame?

New research shows the benefits of tickling rats before rather than after they are subjected to pain, that pigs display empathy, and much more. We've known that rats, mice, and many other animals display empathy and are highly emotional and sentient beings, so why does invasive research continue and why does the federal Animal Welfare Act ignore research on these animals?

Is Sandra Orangutan a Person and More Free? No, She Is Not.

The personhood case of Sandra Orangutan, who still languishes in the Buenos Aires Zoo, remains a mystery. She is still in the zoo, no one seems to know if and when she will go to a sanctuary, the action taken on her behalf doesn't mean that the zoo has to release her to a sanctuary, and her status under Argentine law really hasn't changed. Good luck and many blessings.

Dogs Just Wanna Have Fun: Birds, Fish, and Reptiles Too

A recent issue of Current Biology is devoted to the biology of fun and covers animals including dogs and other mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and invertebrates. The online essays are free, and I highly recommend reading them to learn what we know about the emotional lives of animals and why having fun has evolved. It's a no-brainer, many animals simply love to have fun.

The Cow's Nose Shows How They're Feeling About Life

New research shows that nasal temperature in dairy cows is affected by positive emotional states. Specifically, researchers have discovered that a drop in nasal temperature is associated with a more positive emotional state induced by stroking the cows. We owe it to cows and others to give them the very best lives we can and it's easy to assess what they're feeling.

I'm Glad I'm Not Sarah Palin's Dog: Dogs Aren't Stools

Sarah Palin: "Chill. At least Trig didn't eat the dog." Rather than making heartless comments about her son, Trig, using their family dog, Jill, as a stepping stool, Ms. Palin could have provided valuable lessons in humane education concerning the importance of respect for other animals.

The Jane Effect: A New Book Celebrating Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall has had a significant impact on the lives of innumerable people and other animals. This new book contains essays about Dr. Goodall as friend, colleague, partner, professor, naturalist, exemplar, visionary, and inspiration, written by researchers and many others whose lives she has touched. It was conceived as a gift to celebrate her 80th birthday.

Let's Make Compassion and Rewilding All the Rage in 2015

An "old" book, two new books, and a growing international movement all call for compassion and rewilding revolutions. It's about time to make compassion rock, as a young student once told me, so let's all do something as a unified community to foster global compassion for all animals, human and nonhuman, and their homes. And, then, let's be creative and do even more.

Sandra Orangutan and Personhood: An Essential Clarification

Worldwide media about granting personhood and rights to Sandra Orangutan needs closer scrutiny. Here, attorney Steven Wise, who heads the Nonhuman Rights Project, provides an essential clarification.

Sandra Orangutan Declared a Person With a Right to Freedom

An Argentine court has ruled that the Buenos Aires zoo has to release Sandra, an orangutan, to a sanctuary, because that she has suffered "unjustified confinement of an animal with proven cognitive ability" and "should be recognized as a person with a right to freedom." Let's hope this decision paves the way for future success for many other animals in other countries.

Do Cows Moo "Get me the Hell out of Here" on Factory Farms?

New research on "cow talk" shows that mothers and young share important messages using various types of moos. I hope this landmark research will be used to learn more about what cows and other food animals are saying and feeling as they're "processed" on the way to human forks, knives, spoons, and plates. This is not a happy time for them nor for their family or friends.

Did Pope Francis Open the Pearly Gates to Other Animals?

As noted in a wide array of press about Pope Francis' comments about animals and the afterlife, the pearly gates may be open to other animals. While it remains unclear as to how open they really are and how the Pope meant his comments to be interpreted and implemented, more open and much needed discussion is now on the table.

Giving Puppies as Gifts: What if They're "The Wrong Dog?"

The ASPCA's advertisement "Puppies Are The World's Best Gifts" troubled me. I beg everyone who is thinking of giving a puppy or other animal to someone as a holiday or other type of gift really think it through. I worry that if indeed the animal is "the wrong animal," he or she will pay a huge price for the well-intentioned move that turns into a grievous mistake.

Unearthing Ted Turner: "Last Stand" is a Fascinating Read

Todd Wilkinson's book about Ted Turner called "Last Stand: Ted Turner’s Quest to Save a Troubled Planet" tells it like it is. I really enjoyed Mr. Wilkinson’s book and was fortunate to do an interview with him about it and this fascinating and enigmatic man. There's tons of information between the covers of "Last Stand" that will be of great interest to a broad audience.

On Killing Wolves: Should Only Trained Ethicists Weigh In?

News about the massacre of 890 wolves in Canada by researchers has reached a global audience. Recently, one of the world's leading wolf experts wrote that only trained ethicists could reliably weigh in on the ethics of this "research" project. I disagree. Scientists are humans and we all come to the table with a point of view that should be openly discussed with civility.

Musical Dogs: Moving Dogs From Home to Home can be Perilous

An essay in the New York Times called "The Wrong Dog" raises many difficult questions about possible perils of rescuing and re-homing a dog. Living with a dog is a two-way street and assigning unilateral blame gets us nowhere and once again leaves the dog out in the cold. Playing "musical dogs" is bad for the dogs, as much research and common sense tell us.

Getting Shelter Dogs to Rescue Us: A Solution for Adoption

A wonderful video shows how the "human walking program" organized by the Lost Dogs Home in Melbourne, Australia, helped 5000 shelter dogs get adopted. What I love about this program is how simple it is, and how people came to realize that by rescuing dogs in need, the dogs also rescued them. It's a win-win for both the dogs and the humans.

A Most Unlucky Rare Spider Meets and is Killed by Researcher

Harvard researcher Piotr Naskrecki had the great fortune of meeting a large harmless spider and, most unfortunately for her, he killed her and "deposited" her in a collection. Recently 890 wolves were killed "in the name of science." When will the killing of animals stop? We need to give this question serious consideration because research and conservation are too bloody.

Smarty Plants: Research Shows they Think, Feel, and Learn

An essay in New Scientist called "Root Intelligence" is a fascinating read. Research shows that plants can think, feel, and learn, and that "a plant's awareness of its environment is often keener than an animal's precisely because plants cannot flee from danger and so must sense and adapt to it." Plants also see light and have a sense of smell, taste, touch, and hearing.

Do Animals Play for the Hell of It? Watch This Fox

Watch this video of two red foxes discovering a trampoline. One chooses to play on the trampoline while the other is cautious and never goes onto it. The lessons offered in this video are that animals do play for fun and that personality differences can be displayed, ranging from being exploratory and playful to being very curious and cautious. I really enjoyed it.

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