ERWC English 12
30 January 2018
Whether animals have feelings and emotions has been a conversation the human race has been having for decades. Do pigs really care if they are stuffed into compact cages, unable to move around freely, until they are inevitably sent to a slaughter house in order to feed our covetous mouths? Are alluring, exotic animals such as the orcas at Seaworld bothered about the fact that they have never swam in an actual ocean? That they were purely bred to entertain the masses? These instances are just a small percentage of the cruelty that happens every day, to other living beings. Are they capable of feeling pain? It’s difficult to justify how they couldn’t.
Focusing on an animal that has arguably been disregarded the most, Victoria Braithwaite asked the question, “Do fish feel pain?” Most people would chuckle at the mere thought of that being a logical possibility. Fish? They are such voiceless, docile creatures. Braithwaite begs to differ. “If you look at thin sections of the trigeminal nerve, the main nerve for the face of all vertebrates, fish have the same two types of nociceptors that we do...so they do have the necessary wiring to detect pain.” She further goes on to explain how her and a colleague further researched their claim by performing an experiment where they injected fish with toxic substances, such as bee venom, in order to see if they could detect any signs of aggravation. They found that “Their gills beat faster, and they rub the affected area on the walls of their tank, lose interest in their food and have problems making decisions.” After they had seen the remarkable results of the bee venom, they went on to administer painkillers to offer some relief, and sure enough “...they [began] to behave normally again.” The outcome of their experiment proves that even the “simplest” of animals have the capability to feel pain.
Taking a deeper look into more complex animals, studies focused on the social behavior of pigs, (funded by Mcdonald’s) showed that “they crave affection and are easily depressed if isolated or denied playtime with each other.” Due to research such as this, legal professionals in Switzerland have taken precautions to make sure that animals are treated with the most dignity as possible. Laws have been created “[requiring] that animal owners keep social species, such as dogs, goldfish, and guinea pigs, in groups of two or more.” The fact that laws have been established...