Rights: All people? intelligent species? animals? are created equal?

Last week there was an adorable sleepy sun bear to watch.

I recently heard about moon bears, which are just as interesting to see. The video where I saw them is not cute or cheery, though, but rather takes a look at bile harvesting (no joke!). Ultimately, it raises questions about the rights of animals.

When the animal in question is more like us, I think people are more inclined to feel for it. Primates are the usual subjects in discussions of animal rights. No one can deny their humanlikeness.

At the same time, plenty of us are meat eaters. Is it a breach of animals’ rights to feed on them? If not all the time, then what treatment and consideration do animals deserve when we’re using them for food?

You could philosophize all day about where to pragmatically draw the line, but an article discussing chimpanzees boils it down to the bottom line:

Should they [chimpanzees of dwindling numbers] be mourned as animals, or people?

Perhaps semantics are irrelevant.

“This is a tragedy, for lack of a better word,” said Taglialatela.


I’ve started down the internet hyperlink rabbit trail of research on animal communication, which stirs up questions about animal rights that are more complex and more interesting. You get into animal intelligence, the question of what distinguishes humans from other species, and even emotions? In a week, I’m going to post about that.

  1. Wonderful post, Brett. Can’t wait to read the next one. You’re such an animal lover! I see lots of animal books in your future. Reading the above, I can see you do a picture book (32 pages) for very young readers, about chimps, for example, to raise awareness about their dwindling numbers and celebrate their unique qualities. Now THAT would be run to illustrate! =o)

  2. Wow! I just saw the video on moon bears, B! I wonder how the the guy concluded that collecting bile from the stomach is *the same* as piercing the ears. Was it based on pain levels?

    I know Boeing engineers are learning better aerodynamics from nature (birds)… I wonder how we can also improve communications by learning from nature as well. Go go go on these researches! πŸ™‚

    Shall awaiting more results from your rabbit trailings… This is all very interesting!

    This is for you, young ethologist! πŸ™‚ —> http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/feb/24/author-tim-birkhead-bird-sense?CMP=twt_gu

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