Tag Archive | "Charles Darwin"

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It is Time for Animals to Have Rights

Posted on 03 September 2015 by Jerry

Charles Darwin said, “There is no fundamental difference between man and the higher mammals in their mental faculties…The difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is, certainly is one of degree and not of kind.” (see Beyond Animal, Ego and Time page 63) With those words Darwin foreshadowed the knowledge we would gain from the many experiments with animals we’ve conducted over the years. Calls for further experiments to end are justified by what we now know. In fact, it is time we granted additional rights to proven sentient animals.

“As of 14 September, no U.S. labs will be conducting invasive studies on chimps”, so reads the subtitle of an article appearing in the August 21, 2015 issue of Science magazine. This article announced there have been no permits filed anywhere in the U.S. to conduct invasive research on chimpanzees. This represents a new rule from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).

Animals who have passed the mirror and mark tests and consequently have self-recognition, have been gaining rights in various countries over the years.   Great Britain was the first government to ban experimentation on chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas. In 1999, New Zealand’s parliament gave apes legal protection from animal experimentation.

But the first country to bestow full freedom for these animals was the Spanish parliament that passed a resolution in 2008 that gave great apes the right to life and freedom. This was a result of work by the Great Apes Project that was founded by Peter Singer and Paola Cavalieri.

In 2013 India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests forbade the keeping of captive dolphins for public entertainment anywhere in the country. The Ministry is quoted as stating, “Whereas cetaceans in general are highly intelligent and sensitive, and various scientists who have researched dolphin behavior have suggested that the unusually high intelligence; as compared to other animals means that dolphins should be seen as ‘non-human persons’ and as such should have their own specific rights and its morally unacceptable to keep them captive for entertainment purpose.”

In late 2014 an orangutan in an Argentine zoo was transferred to a sanctuary after an Argentine court gave the ape a “non-human person” status. This was in response to a habeas corpus petition that was filed by the Association of Officials and Lawyers for Animal Rights (AFADA) that took the position the ape had sufficient cognitive functions and should not be treated as an object. The orangutan that had been in captivity since it was born in a German zoo was sent to live out its days in a wildlife sanctuary in Brazil.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the Great Apes Project, Peter Singer, Paola Cavalieri, and the Nonhuman Rights Project founded by Steven Wise, who recently brought a habeas corpus writ for two chimpanzees that was denied in the U.S., have long been battling for the rights of these animals. Films such as the award winning “The Cove” have documented outright animal cruelty perpetrated on these sentient animals.

It is time that U.S. granted “non-human personhood” rights to these animals that have innate self-recognition. This includes all great apes (chimpanzees, orangutans and bonobos), all elephants, and all breeds of cetaceans (porpoises and dolphins). I would add a family of birds, the Corvids (crows, ravens, and jays) as self-aware and deserving of rights.

The Indian Ministry of Environment and Forest has provided us a good starting point. Their Declaration on cetaceans (porpoises and dolphins) should be applied to all sentient animals worldwide. They offer declarations that in an article in the July 30, 2013 issue of the Daily Kos are referred to as follows. They state, “Unlike…positive rights, such as the ‘right’ to education or health care, the animal right is, at bottom, a right to be left alone. It does not call for government to tax us in order to provide animals with food, shelter, and veterinary care. It only requires us to stop killing them and making them suffer.”

Their Declarations are as follows and should be recognized by local and international laws:

  1. Every individual animal granted rights should have the right to life.
  2. No sentient animal should be held in captivity or servitude; be subject to cruel treatment; or be removed from their natural environment.
  3. All of these animals have the right to freedom of movement and residence within their natural environment.
  4. None of these animals is the property of any state, corporation, human group or individual.
  5. All of these animals have the right to the protection of a natural environment.
  6. All of these animals have the right not to be subject to the disruption of their cultures.
  7. The rights, freedoms and norms set forth in this Declaration should be protected under international and domestic law.

Of course there should be a reasonable amount of time for zoos, entertainment parks, and researchers to find substitutes in their operations for these animals. In many respects these animals have been prized for their very intellect and self-awareness. After all it is their trainability that has made them so highly valued.

We need to once and for all recognize their legal right to exist and be left alone.   Indeed we should protect them from the human beings that are barely their betters. If this happens within the big established countries, all others will follow. Write your congresspersons, senators and tell all others it is time we made these rights official.

Use the following articles to gain additional information or access the source documents used in this writing.

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/349/6250/777.summary?sid=19a8e1ee-158f-45e8-af28-17f52bc6fa59

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/jun/26/humanrights.animalwelfare

http://www.wired.com/2014/12/orangutan-personhood/

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/21/us-argentina-orangutan-iduskbn0jz0q620141221

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/07/30/1226634/-india-declares-dolphins-non-human-persons-dolphin-shows-banned#

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-ropeik/humans-or-non-human-anima_b_8052124.html

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/non-human-persons-animal-rights-090000255.html

http://science.time.com/2013/12/02/chimps-human-rights-lawsuit/

http://condofire.com/2015/05/22/ted-x-steven-wise-on-why-chimps-should-have-legal-person-status-non-human-rights-project/

http://www.lifenews.com/2013/02/04/transhumanism-pushing-rights-for-non-human-persons/

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They Are Real Human-Like Attributes

Posted on 06 April 2013 by admin

A perennial question within animal research is are we projecting human attributes onto chimps and apes or is their human-like behavior natural?  The results of a review of multiple studies appeared in the journal “Animal Behavior” and declared the behavior observed was not a projection, was real, and there was no evidence of researcher bias.  These results prompted Mark Adams, PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh U.K., to state, “(Chimpanzees) have the same social problems that we do, they want to make friends and find mates and sort of gain position within their society.”

Charles Darwin famously observed, “There is no fundamental difference between man and the higher mammals in their mental faculties….The difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is, certainly is one of degree and not of kind.”  While our first study shows that primate researchers have not biased their results, the behavior of a chimp in Sweden shows an all too human-like deviousness.

Previous research in Sweden showed a chimpanzee at the Furuvik Zoo gathered stones from his enclosure that he threw at zoo visitors.  More recent research showed evidence the chimp is even more devious.  He hides his weapons stockpiles behind rocks and logs for future use and fashions projectiles with a combination of hay, mud and feces.  He keeps these stockpiles near the viewing area so as not to be seen approaching with a projectile but rather throwing one from close up so visitors have no opportunity to retreat.

Researcher Mathias Osvath, a comparative cognitive scientist and scientific director of Lund University’s Primate Research Station, was quoted in a May 18, 2012 posting by LiveScience.com as saying “The results indicate that he (the chimp) can anticipate behaviors of others who are not present in the situation where he makes his preparations.”

Reversing the process described above, researchers often look to animal behavior in an attempt to understand why humans evolved the behaviors they exhibit.  Even though only about 5% of mammals are monogamous, there is evidence of monogamy in mammals, including Humans, where both parents are needed to raise offspring.  Recent research on owl monkeys was reviewed by NationalGeographic.com in February of 2013.  It shows that monogamous pairs produce 25% more babies than monkeys in severed pairs.

Fernandez-Duque, a biological anthropologist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, observed “Call it love, call it friendship, call it marriage – there is something in our biology that leads to this enduring, emotional bond between two individuals that is widespread among human societies.” Larry Young, a behavioral neuroscientist at Emory University in Atlanta, credits our brain chemistry in his new book entitled “The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction”.  Young states our organs “have evolved the mechanism to produce an emotional attachment.”  He believes monogamous attachments are reinforced by the production of pleasure producing oxytocin and dopamine which causes feelings of exhilaration and happiness during intimacy between animals.

All of this information once again serves only to reinforce the validity of Darwin’s earlier observation.  Chapter Six – Human Uniqueness in the author’s book Beyond Animal, Ego and Time delves further into these topics.

Use the following links to obtain more information:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003347212001157

http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/18146336

http://news.yahoo.com/deceptive-chimp-hides-ammo-blasts-unsuspecting-zoo-visitors-161640789.html

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/02/130213-valentines-day-owl-monkeys-animals-love-science/

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