Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


Lives Worth Living 

January 20, 2012 By Nathan Runkle, Mercy for Animals  

According to Jonathan Balcombe, Ph.D., a world-renowned animal behaviorist and acclaimed author of Pleasurable Kingdom: Animals and the Nature of Feeling Good, animals experience life in much the same way as we do. They feel fear and pain of course, but more central to the lives of animals is the capacity to experience joy and pleasure.

In a recent article published in Positive News, based on his latest book The Exultant Ark: A Pictorial Tour of Animal Pleasure, Dr. Balcombe shares the latest science on the inner world of animals and explains why some researchers now believe that other animals may experience certain emotions more intensely than humans and how, when the lives of animals are deprived of purpose or pleasure, they suffer more intensely than humans do.

He notes that chickens are intelligent creatures who communicate through at least thirty different calls and sheep can recognize emotions on the faces of other sheep. In fact, chickens and sheep, like all farmed animals, have complex emotional lives and are equally capable of experiencing joy, pleasure and love, as they are fear, loneliness and pain. Unfortunately, when crammed into tiny cages or crates on factory farms and deprived of nearly everything that is natural and important to them, farmed animals are forced to endure lives that few of us can even imagine.

Perhaps worse than the physical torments farmed animals are made to suffer, is the loss of freedom, companionship and other joyful experiences that wild animals are afforded. As Dr. Balcombe explains, "Pleasure adds intrinsic value to life - that is, value to the individual who feels it regardless of any perceived worth to anyone else. Pleasure seekers have wants, needs, desires, and lives worth living. They can have a good quality of life. If we let them."

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