Animal sentience workshop
The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) and the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) hosted an animal welfare sentience workshop in November 2017. Find out more and watch videos filmed during the workshop of the speakers.
Animal sentience workshop
NAWAC and the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) jointly hosted an animal sentience workshop in November 2017. Participants representing diverse sectors, industry groups and organisations discussed the inclusion of animal sentience within the Animal Welfare Act and what it means for the work of NAWAC and NAEAC. As well as videos of the presentations, we've got a report from the workshop.
Read the animal sentience workshop report [PDF, 296 KB]
What is sentience and why was it included in the Animal Welfare Act? (12:22)
Virginia was one of the first veterinarians to achieve membership to the Animal Welfare Chapter of the Australia and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists. She holds a Diploma in Professional Ethics from the University of Auckland. She chaired the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) between 2009 and 2015. She has done work for the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC) and is an accredited reviewer of animal ethics committees in New Zealand.
[This video was filmed during a workshop in front of an audience. The speaker stands at a speaker’s podium and talks into a microphone. Sometimes, she looks or points to a screen with slides containing information to support her talk. The slides aren't shown in the video.]
Virginia Williams: I must say, it's great to be here today.
I've been feeling particularly nervous, but I know at least two thirds of the people in the room and it's really nice to catch up with people again. I think it's going to be a really interesting day. I'm looking forward to hearing what all the speakers have to say.
So, what is sentience and why was it included in the Animal Welfare Act – that was the title I was given. So what is sentience? Well we are going to talk about that today, so I am not going to say too much more about it.
Why was it included in the Animal Welfare Act? Well I do have a few things to say about that.
The working definition that NAWAC and I have come up with is, an animal's ability to have feelings, perceptions and experiences that matter to it.
Now, you might agree with that, you might not agree with that. I'm sure we're going to have some really interesting discussions about it, and I hope it will be an enjoyable journey. But what I'm going to talk about first is how we got to this point where sentience has been included in the Animal Welfare Act, and it's a word that wasn't really part of our vocabulary until relatively recently, and now we've got it as part of our legislation.
So just what might that mean for the animal welfare legislation going forward?
So first, a little bit of history. It doesn't seem that long ago that we were praising ourselves for having, in the 1999 Animal Welfare Act, one of the most progressive pieces of animal welfare legislation in the world. It was a big step forward from the Animal Protection Act which was basically a 'thou shalt not', was based on acts of cruelty, going to a bit more of 'thou shalt' in terms of how we should treat animals.
But still, when we look back 20 years it was still really about the minimisation of negative experiences. So making sure that animals have sufficient food, and adequate shelter, and physical handling that minimises unreasonable and unnecessary pain and distress, and also the protection from significant disease. Its only really with the opportunity to display normal patterns of behaviour that we're looking really towards something that's a little bit more positive, but I'm sure many of you knew and remember our esteemed David Bayvel really well, that great champion of animal welfare who both globally and internationally pushed animal welfare well to the forefront in terms of what happens in legislation and government. And he always used to say that animal welfare is a journey not a destination.
And so who knows what we'll be doing in another few years' time. We might be doing something completely different.
But here we are another step along the way. We've acknowledged sentience and we're wondering what on earth it all means.
So the changing focus as I mentioned. We started with Prevention of Cruelty, then we went with physical health and behavioural needs, which set minimum standards. And now with sentience, well, there's something more and something more positive definitely, so it's going to be really interesting to see where we get to.
So I'd just like to talk a little bit about where sentience came from in terms of animals. It wasn't until about 15 years ago that the word started to be used quite widely in terms of animals, in relation to animals. As early as 2000, a group of international animal welfare organisations started to develop the Universal Declaration of Animal Welfare. Which was to be an inter-governmental agreement on animal welfare, and the first principle of that was that animals are sentient. Now, they didn't define that, but what they did say was it meant that animals were deserving of due consideration and respect. Which doesn't, which yes, of course it's right, but it still doesn't give us too many clues about what's going on.
New Zealand signed up to the Universal Declaration of Animal Welfare in 2008, but we also acknowledged sentience at that point, animal sentience. But it wasn't until the 2013 Animal Welfare Strategy that was published by MPI that we actually see it appearing in government, in government circles. So, of course animal welfare is important for the animals. From the governmental point of view it's very important for our reputation, which was why the Animal Welfare Strategy was instituted and so these were the reasons that we thought it was necessary - it matters how animals are treated, we've got responsibilities towards them and it's acceptable to use animals as long as that use is humane. Why did we need a strategy?
There we are – animals are sentient but it's described as they can feel pain and distress, which is really still just a negative way of looking at sentience and we'll see down the bottom here.
Where animal welfare can damage our reputation which is one of the important things from the governmental point of view that we had.
Then in 2015, we get sentience included in the legislation, not without a bit of a fight. The first draft of the legislation did not include sentience, and there are a lot of people in this room who made representations about that, particularly NAWAC, NAEAC, the NZ RNZSPCA, all made strong representations that sentience should be included in the Act. And finally here it is. It's the first thing in the whole Act, it's the first clause in the long title which is where the purpose of the Act is put forward. So to recognise that animals are sentient. Now, there are lots of definitions in the Animal Welfare Act, there's not one of sentience so we're still no further forward.
We know that there's more to sentience and animal welfare than that it is just that they can feel pain and distress. We've got the groundbreaking work of professor David Mellor and his team at Massey, and the five domains model which not only talks about negative experiences, it talks about the positive experiences as well.
So, I've just put up a few of those there, things like isolation versus affectionate, sociability, depression versus playfulness, chilling versus thermal comfort, those are the kind of things that we now are starting to look at in terms of sentience.
So what difference does the acknowledgement of sentience make now that it's in law?
If we talk about sentience in terms of the ability of animals to have experiences that matter to them there are any number of examples where this just can't happen at the moment. We have sows in crates, that can't build nests, which is an innate behaviour for them, so that kind of behaviour is denied to them. Our dairy industry protocols require, obviously, that calves are removed from their mothers soon after birth, so that whole nurturing process, which is one of the positive things in the 5 domains, can't take place. We have research animals living in barren environments, and companion animals suffering breathing difficulties simply because they're bred to conform to an unnatural conformational standard.
Yes, most of these animals are nutritionally satisfied. They may be treated appropriately when ill or injured. Many, but not all, have appropriate shelter. Many, but not all, are appropriately handled. Many, but not all, can display normal patterns of behaviour.
So, however we as a collective may choose to define the term sentience, what it means to me is that it's not enough to provide our animals with the bare necessities of life. Many animals still live in impoverished environments. There are still some that do not even get the benefit of the 5 physical health and behavioural needs that have been a legislative requirement since 1999. While we're seeing a slow development of planting and some dairy farms for instance, I think of cows in Canterbury, where I live, in flat paddocks denuded of trees to provide for irrigation, with limited ability to protect themselves from cold or the heat. Where is their adequate shelter?
While sows are now out of gestation stalls while they're pregnant, I see piglets which have adequate food, water, they have shelter but they have barren environments, that bare floor, no distractions of any kind offering nothing for a species of such intelligence. How are their behavioural needs being met? I see some small efforts to enrich the environments of laboratory animals, which in many cases are simply raising the level slightly above the impoverished. I see rodeo animals, particularly calves, subjected to at least very stressful and likely very painful procedures in the name of sport. A sport that has no historical context in New Zealand. How is this physical handling, which minimises the likelihood of unreasonable pain or distress?
To me, acknowledgement that animals are sentient raises the bar. At the very least it means that implementing the 5 physical health and behavioural needs is an imperative. If we think of animals as having feelings, perceptions, and experiences that matter to them, is it good enough for example to denude the landscape of any vegetation that might provide some protection from the weather? Is it good enough to prevent some animals from displaying normal patterns of behaviour that are innately important to them? These and other questions are what we'll be looking at and discussing through the day, and I must say I'm looking forward to seeing where we get to.
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NAWAC chair Gwyneth Verkerk
[This video was filmed during a workshop in front of an audience. The speaker stands at a speaker’s podium and talks into a microphone. Sometimes, she looks or points to a screen with slides containing information to support her talk. The slides aren't shown in the video.]
Gwyneth Verkerk: Thank you, and thank you Virginia very much for telling us why and how sentience was included in the amendment to the act, and I want to congratulate both you and John Hellström, who was unable to join us today, for your leadership and that achievement.
And so now it falls to myself and Grant as the current chairs of the 2 committees to lead the process of what happens next. I'll just, I have, I have to say at the outset, um, at a personal level, I've found aspects of this discussion somewhat perplexing.
As a baby boomer raised on a Southland farm and trained as a veterinarian, the existence of animal sentience has always been self-evident, carrying with it the prerequisite to treat animals fairly and provide for the needs and comfort within which lies the mantra of a good life and a decent death. So I ask myself, why are we even debating this? Nevertheless, worldviews will differ, and societal expectations change, and today we are here to think whether and how we might give more explicit acknowledgement to animal sentience within NAWAC's work which is to develop the codes of welfare for the wide ranging species we have as well as guidelines for hunting and fishing and for pest management.
From the committee's perspective this could go in a number of directions. Traditional thinking has been guided by the framework provided by the 5 freedoms, in the format of minimum standards and recommended best practices that you find in the code to reflect this. But, and without meaning to deride the 5 freedoms in any way, as they have supported numerous improvements for animals at a global level, it is a framework that was developed from a societal position that is now belonging to a previous generation.
And so I ask myself, is it time to move our thinking? Scientific research has expanded our knowledge of affective state, and as many of you are aware the 5 domains model has been proposed to give greater consideration to this, and we'll hear more about this later today.
So what does inclusion of sentience in the Act mean for NAWAC? Some questions that come to mind are: is this a signal to transform our thinking about animal needs? Do our codes and their structure pay sufficient cognisance to animal sentience? And do we need to review our decision-making frameworks? And so we've conspired to bring you all here today to gather and absorb what we know will be wide-ranging views. These are weighty questions with implications for you all, our stakeholders, and NAWAC looks forward to hearing your korero and thank you for your collective help to guide our future direction.[Video ends]
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NAEAC chair Grant Shackell
[This video was filmed during a workshop in front of an audience. The speaker stands at a speaker’s podium and talks into a microphone. Sometimes, he looks or points to a screen with slides containing information to support his talk. The slides aren't shown in the video.]
Grant Shackell: Research, testing, and teaching using animals is allowed under Part 6 of the Act. One of the things that Act does is it creates AECs. Many AEC members would probably say that they have always used some sort of notion of sentience in their deliberations without actually having used the word specifically.
When researchers manipulate animals for RTT they have to assess the impact of those manipulations, and they use a scale based on the 5 domains, so it's likely that many of us involved in research, testing and teaching consider ourselves to be a bit ahead of the game in any sentience discussion. But are we?
This painting probably depicts a teaching situation. The dog on the table is restrained but the obvious vocalization suggests that it hasn't been treated to alleviate any pain or discomfort. Did you notice there's also a second dog? Probably the next one for the table, that is in the room and it's also unrestrained, it's also restrained. It can see, hear, smell what's going on around it. It's also vocalising, perhaps that's simply a chorus for the dog on the table, but more likely it's an expression of something from the animal's sentience.
Note that 2 of the observers are looking away. Is that because they are indifferent, or is it because they can't bear to watch? And yet another observer, is watching but he appears to be trying to distance himself as far as possible as he can from what's going on. But most obviously there's nobody actually looking at the faces of the animals. Would understanding the emotional experiences of the two dogs in the painting, by acknowledging their sentience, perhaps have resulted in them being treated better?
We've come a long way since those days. Nowadays we can use computer-generated models, we can use anatomically printed, ah, anatomically correct printed 3D models. We can do a whole lot of things that can be used over and over again without actually ever touching an animal.
Internationally fish are classed as larvae until they have developed a number of rays in their fins that they will have as an adult. The Animal Welfare Act excludes animals in the larval form from the definition of animal. However, zebrafish, which are increasingly being used as a research model hatch at about 2 days of age, forage, and exhibit escape reflexes after 5 days. Where does that leave us? To paraphrase George Orwell, if all animals are sentient, are all animals equally sentient? It's very easy to find individuals who would argue that some animals are more sentient than others. If we accept that animals can be capable of suffering, can we then exempt ourselves from considering or being responsible for suffering, depending on some contexts.
At least in research, testing and teaching there's a statutory process to monitor and minimise the impact on animals. Did every one of those animals as they came up, evoke the same notion of sentience as the one before it for you? The days of viewing animals machines are long gone. There are increasing numbers of viable alternatives for animal use in RTT. Shifting attitudes, have changed, of value and ethics have changed the way we think, and they've made us think more about the three Rs and three Rs are a current focus for NAEAC. Now that sentience is recognised in the Act, are the days of AECs numbered too.
Internationally there is a drive to reduce the use of animals for testing for regulatory purposes, a move towards in vitro testing and changes in toxicology and regulatory testing methods. All these things recognised as three Rs. While there are rapidly escalating numbers of alternatives, there is still a very good argument that some biological solutions are best tested in a biological system. So will there ever be a time when animals are no longer used for research, testing and teaching?
But that's an argument for another day. What we can do is consider how we might make a better life for those animals we do use and protect them from harm to the very best of our ability by applying the notion of sentience.
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A view of law's 'sentient' animal through the legal lens (15:42)
Ian is a barrister, solicitor and director of Guardianz Lawyers and Consultants which specialises in animal law and animal-related issues associated with biosecurity, food safety, and trade. Ian started his career as a clinical veterinarian and after 15 years added a law degree, specifically to take part in developing area of animal law. As a lawyer, Ian has worked as prosecutor for MPI, and was a state-wide specialist for animal welfare in Australia. Through Guardianz, Ian provides specialist legal opinion, representation, and consultancy/training programs for diverse animal welfare stakeholders including government, non-government organisations, and corporates.
[This video was filmed during a workshop in front of an audience. The speaker is on stage, standing at a speaker’s podium. He moves around on the stage and points at the screen sometimes. It shows slides containing information to support his talk. The screen isn't fully shown in the video.]
Ian Robertson: First of all, my thanks to the conveners and organisers and to you for the opportunity to share some time with you and I will quickly admit that that guy hadn't crossed quite as many time zones and so sleep-deprived as this guy. You ever looked at photos of people before and after I know it's a little bit of what's going on at the moment but to share a few thoughts I've only got 15 minutes so this will be bullet pointed and we have an opportunity to take questions and so on later.
I live as a lawyer and what we call a house of words and I call them a power house of words and the power comes from the fact that what's in law determines what you and I can do and can't do who can do it who get penalised for it. Think of research, testing and teaching as an example. A license to do what others in community in the community would likely be prosecuted for. On that basis the definition in so many ways is everything. It's one thing to have a word but how that's defined sets those parameters going forward.
Now I noticed in the survey results that 75 percent of us here are confident with what the definitions are and what the implications are we've had some time discussing that so this should be easy but just take a pen and paper and as I'm going through this because this is dead easy now right? 75 percent of us this is a walk in the park. Write down what you identify as the three consistent element of the sentience definition. I see lots of people just looking at me, I'm hoping to see pens on paper. What are those three consistent elements?
Number two you're familiar with the Animal Welfare Act so there are four key words in what I call the two elements standard that determines currently if somebody's broken the law or not. What are they?
For 75 percent of you this is a walk in the park. And I'm still seeing most people looking rather than writing. In other forums where I've done this I've got you to exchange pieces of paper that always makes it entertaining. Third thing the third element of sentience correlates with what's standard in our current codes of welfare and it does. How? Nobody's writing. Okay consider those and I'm picking that 99.9 percent of us have written those answers in our mind and we'll compare them later okay.
Now this is a busy slide I'm going to talk to it so if you can't quite read all the writing that's okay. My goodness there we go pushed the wrong way. Sentience, if we're talking today or in any other forum I've attended a number on talking about sentience. If we're talking about that animals are sentient, and what we should do, to a large extent and not to put too fine a point on it we're wasting our time. Because that decision was made 200 years ago when the law came into play and said animals experience, and the next question is not just that they experience what do they experience, they experience what you and I broadly defined as positive and negative states. This is David Mellor's domain, oh, five domains.
Sentience has three elements and I've just outlined them so compare this with the answer that you had in your head. Number one animal's experience. Number two they experience what, second one first one of that is pain and distress. The third element and the positive state is interests, joy, again thank you David. It's always nice to see the author of five domains nodding in the audience that I've got it right. It reminds me of Brazil. I've NZVA position up there because I'm going to come to it in the next slide I consistently refer to that because I think it's a concise, clear statement, and I feel and I put it up here because if you ever want to reference it later on go to the NZVA policy and position statement.
It asks a couple of questions and it goes to the animal's experience not just that they experience but what did they experience. Did they experience negative states of pain and distress, which are currently laid out in the Animal Welfare Act and the qualifiers are that whether that pain or distress was reasonable or necessary. And in terms of the second test on those positive states what was the animals experience in terms of interest, joy, comfort those sorts of things? Now we've talked already this morning about the law and I've outlined why that's important it sets the parameters of what you can and cannot do. It is while some people yawn and mentally and emotionally turn off when you mentioned law the reality is that law is society's handbook so that's relevant to what you see as 'D' here in terms of public expectation. Virginia kindly outlined our journey from Animal Protection Act through to the Animal Welfare Act, what's the next stage? Is it the sentient animal welfare act, animal, Sentient Animal's Welfare Act? Or is it business as usual? Because there, once we've got the definition that isolated those three elements, the question is, is it going to be business as usual? And they're going to be those that will argue for that because it's what we've been doing all along.
We acknowledged animals as sentient 200 years ago. This is old. The real question is are we going to take on responsibility for that third element? Not just element number two protecting them from unnecessary or unreasonable pain or distress, but are we going to make it a legal responsibility, that's a key word there responsibility, to provide for their positive emotional experiences? There are those that will argue for the two of the three elements, expected, but myself another group of lawyers have made out a legal argument which we're looking for opportunities to put through the courts because there are various heads of government one is, yeah, Parliament, and the other is the judiciary or the courts we can take something and develop it.
I see there's a few lawyers and those that have worked and in compliance and enforcement in this room, um, and you'll know this principle. Law is not in the habit of saying what we want you to do is 3 + 3, 4 + 2, 7 - 1, and 6 + 0. It is not in the habit of repeating yourself if there's an introduction of a new word it must mean something different. So if you've got three elements, you've acknowledged them that they experience, we've already acknowledged pain and distress, we did that 200 years ago, then the only element remaining is positive states and this is entirely consistent with that interpretation of adding on that third element with law as it currently stands.
Section 10 of the Animal Welfare Act, and this will please a lot of the scientists in the room, says that there's a standard to keep up with what we call good practice and scientific knowledge and talk with almost any of the scientists in here, if not all of us, and we acknowledge that animals, that science, recognises animals as sentient and what those 3 elements are. Just as a by the way, the, you and I wouldn't be here today, we wouldn't need to be here, in my very respectful opinion, if a definition of sentience had been included in the August 2015 amendment. It's been noticed as a legislative gap. Section 2 of most pieces of New Zealand law provide definitions, that business as usual, so it has attracted criticism from overseas and in my conversations. In fact one of my favourite ones was from a colleague in the UK that describes sentience in New Zealand's Animal Law as an empty Christmas present, because it looks good but without the definition, we need meetings to decide what sentience is. Most scientists can fill in that answer strange that wasn't written into legislation at the time. So, key messages fill the gap. What do we do from here?
My personal contribution is we fill the gap. We recommend those in our new New Zealand Government fill the gap. Provide the definition of sentience and I know of at least two other jurisdictions where reconsideration to their animal welfare law is looking at providing a simple definition of sentience and letting things develop from there. But those definitions are based consistently on those three elements. They experience, they experience what? Negative and positive states. What would that require? A review of all uses and environments of animals. It's not a bad thing, that's what's expected, by the public who write the law book. There is a difference I can think of experiences in another jurisdiction with, involving rodeos where maybe the practice will continue but certain events won't.
Does your average companion animal cat, dog, experience positive states as they're lying by the fire having just finished their bowl of food that was brought to them by the biggest and best hunter in the world, their owners? Alright. Then compare that with the experience of an animal in the rodeo, that's chased out of a corral into an arena, roped, hogtied and dropped. Is it having a good day? You don't need to be a lawyer or a scientist to figure that one out and yet that's where the public expectations are moving.
Is there an expectation that the positive states and experiences of an animal will be accommodated by our governors? Fill the gap, provide that definition. There are predictably going to be predictably going to be some resistance to this change. There always is to change. Again it's business as usual and it was interesting to see that we're looking at the opportunities and benefits here. The bottom line is, we're already familiar with this. I see on the on the program there's a representative from the zoo speaking to us today. There are, there are farmers, there are corporates, there are industry, who are already putting in standards, what we call in our codes of welfare, best practice. It's there so the shift is not some aspirational unattainable, pie in the sky, dream of recognising animals having positive experiences.
The reality is that there are those who are already doing it so, [Bell noise] thank you, there are the, there are the leaders there are the followers and there are those that kind of drag their heels. What we're doing by filling the gap, you'll notice I'm repeating that because I think that's the key message, filling the gap – three elements of sentience. Is taking those who had dragging the chain and bringing them up to from minimum standards, which I and other colleagues, provides a defence for those that are draggers, if they're complying with minimum standard that's okay under the law, currently, you want to change?
Change that standard. So then what we're making is basically today's best practice standards, the required standards of practice. I've already been given the bell, so I refer to the policy, the position statement the NZVA, as a nice, clear, concise, quick reference proviso of this. It gives the background. Sentience not defined, legislative gap, so fill the gap. That's what you and I are here today because there was a gap created. The three elements are experience positive and negative emotions.
As we go through the day listen to the speakers, listen to the conversations at the table. If you find yourself getting dragged off into a conversation of we should recognise animals as sentient, that discussion was had 200 years ago. The people that decided that are long dead. What we're looking at is, do we apply a legal responsibility for the positive states of animals? That would change things. And as David kindly nodded his head, what do we mean by positive states? And it's an "and", it's not just minimums it's something positive. Essentially this is where we're coming in - the legal argument is, there's been a new word. It's got to change something. We've already been doing these 2, that's the gap, that's the one 'fill the gap' that we can make a change today.
So in summary, since the 60 seconds is coming up very soon, those 3 questions which most of you answered in your head, the 3 elements is the definition. Sentience means that animals experience negative and positive states. 'Experience', 'positive', 'negative'. Overlay all your discussions for that today. It's not about just sentience, its responsibility for the positive. Second, you know the 4 key words. Name them: pain and distress that's unreasonable and unnecessary. Those are the qualifiers. So focus on minimal pain and distress, yippee-kay-yay, it's outdated.
Number 3, as I said, it's about the issue today is about accepting, or not, responsibility for that third element and I'll endorse again that there's a number of lawyers at least who have found a way to create a legal argument. I know of cases I'm talking with lawyers on Friday where this is being introduced into their courtroom arguments. I know of cases from when structuring solicitors that this is being introduced, so either government is going to fill the gap or somebody else is. I would say let's be part of the voice that fills the gap provide a simple definition. Thank you. [Applause]
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Advocating for the devil – bees, jumping spiders, and the emperor's new clothes? (16:36)
Mark comes from a sheep and beef cattle farming background. He is now a principal adviser in animal welfare with MPI. Before this he was a senior scientist with AgResearch (reproductive physiology of red deer) and a private consultant (ethical evaluations in science and farming). Mark has served on NAWAC, the Australian and New Zealand Council for the Care of Animals in Research and Teaching, and the Bioethics Council, and was a president of the NZ Society of Animal Production.
[This video was filmed during a workshop in front of an audience. The speaker stands at a speaker’s podium and talks into a microphone. Sometimes, he looks or points to a screen with slides containing information to support his talk. The slides aren't shown in the video.]
Mark Fisher: My understanding of sentience is that its inclusion in the Act was largely symbolic. And so my role here today is to uncover flaws in creating anything more than a symbolic inclusion in the act, or a symbolic understanding of sentience.
Now the devil's advocate position is very, very important in the Catholic Church when you're giving out sainthoods, that is where it came from. I'd like to use it today as I said to look at sentience and in the spirit of perhaps the greatest philosopher of science of all times, Sir Karl Popper I'd like you to listen to this presentation today and think about how you can make it better. I've chosen to concentrate on three aspects of sentience: 1, what we understand by it, 2, the limits of sentience, and 3, the issue of non-sentience which is perhaps going into science fiction.
So our common understanding. This is what my dictionary says sentience is; having the power of perception by the senses, and it's a good dictionary. And just to show that I'm a man of the world, this is Tibetan Buddhism's word for it; 'gro ba' which means 'to go', toward pleasure and away from pain. Now we seem to be getting a range of interpretations of the term sentience - capable of experiencing positive and negative states, aware of their feelings and emotions, and even the fact that they're not commodities.
The only problem with defining anything is that the real danger is that you start to exclude people or dismiss other views. And I think if we start coming up with lots of different definitions of sentience we should appreciate and acknowledge them all. I just like to take a little bit of time this morning talking about the history from philosophy and science, and thankfully philosophers and scientists that I'm talking about didn't take people with them, we had more clues. In the two I'm going to concentrate on are Rene Descartes and John Watson. I think in a way it's people like them which is why we are here today.
So this is Descartes, he's a very cool guy from a couple of hundred years ago. It gets a lot of stick which was why he had sunglasses nowadays. It was he who came up with the idea, his monstrous thesis that animals are machines and totally without feeling. But academics have got a lot of discussion, or have done a lot of discussion of thoughts about what Descartes actually said. And this is Sir Anthony Kenny a philosopher in Britain, his translation of Descartes, which I think you'll find quite interesting. All the things which dogs, horses and monkeys are made to do are merely expressions of their fear, their hope or their joy and consequently they can do these things without any thought. I don't see much of a machine in there, I don't know what you do?
The second one is a scientist, John Watson. He was, he set out to make psychology into a really good science, an objective science and he determined that things like sensations, perceptions, images, desires and even thinking and emotions could not be measured. And that's slowly morphed into 'they do not exist', and that was a school of behaviourism, which had a very big impact on science for a long time.
Now at the same time, William McDougall, came up with this theory of motivation. Where emotions like fear, sexual desire and maternal tenderness motivate animals to do things like escape from danger, courtship and copulation and care for their young. McDougall was an opponent of Watson but yet Watson had the bigger influence. It was not until the likes of Ruth Harrison, Donald Griffin, Marian Stamp Dawkins and Jaak Panksepp, that science really started to engage in the idea that animals had feelings and the real word I want to stress there is that science started to engage.
Not surprisingly, common sense was alive and well through all this time. This first quote that animals have senses, emotions and consciousness, demonstrates sagacity, facility, memory, association of ideas and reasons etc, etc, came from William Youatt in 1839 and he was a veterinary surgeon in London. And the second one from George Romanes, who was a pupil of Charles Darwin's in 1884 - pleasures and pains evolved in animals to allow them to seek the one as shun the other. So like Ian said these ideas have been around for at least 200 years. So I'll just ask the first question, what are we responding to today? Is it philosophy? Is it science? Or is it common sense?
In this delightful little quote from Ian Duncan "If sentience is necessary for a consideration of welfare, surely it is sentience that welfare is all about". To me some sums it up, it's a nice little circular thing, but what are we doing here today? So my first little conclusion is; that we should learn the lessons of the past. If we want to take responsibility, as Ian said, for positive emotions, or give animals the opportunities for normal behaviour, appreciate or acknowledge their likes and dislikes, well do so, but don't for God's sake put it on sentience! You'll lose people.
The second one is; the degrees and limits of sentience and for this little segment, a couple of slides, I'm going to talk about insects. This is Jeff Lockwood, he's an entomologist in the University of Wyoming and Jeff is a good guy. He's not an off-the-wall type person. He did a sabbatical at AgResearch in Dunedin a few years ago - so he's kosher. And this is Jeff's idea of insects, he's studied them for a long time. They can see, hear, smell, taste, feel and respond to pressure, shock and heat. Recognise that? They also respond to ultra violet wavelengths in the polarisation of light. They have endorphins and they're susceptible to neurotoxic insecticides and here's the really creepy bit, those insecticides were developed in World War 2 for use against humans.
They can feel pain and they can learn, even when they are headless. And the cockroach is really, really good. It's evolved knowing that scientists are going to come along at some stage and cut off his head, and he's got neural tissue outside his head. And what Jeff does in his classes, is he makes his students anaesthetise his insects, just in case they feel pain.
But it gets a lot more interesting than Jeff. The first example was honeybees. You're probably aware of the normal experiments we did in zoology classes - you put sugar down, the bees go out pick it up go back and do a dance in their hive and tell their hive mates where it is. These people in the States did something different. They put that honey or sugar solution in two spots, one on the lake-shore and one on a boat also at the lake-shore but gradually over time they moved the boat out into the lake. So when the bees came back and told their hive mates where the food was, the hive mates rejected the source of food that was in the lake. Bees aren't dumb, they know there's no flowers in the lake for goodness sake. And what they were doing was integrating their information with their mental map of the world. And if you think that's complicated, in terms of what we're talking about today, they possess a belief-desire cognitive architecture.
My second example is the jumping spider. People have put them in a laboratory and put them on platforms were they can observe prey at the other end of the laboratory also on platforms. So this jumping spider can sit up on the platform and work out how best to get to his prey down the end of the lab on another platform. And they've also monitored the eyes of the spider, so you can work out exactly what the spiders doing, or looking at, and they map out a way in reverse order of the way that they have to go. And because it's a lab and because it's full of scientists you can do lots of interesting things. Like what barriers in the way etc, but what the jumping spider can do is recall from different perspectives how to get to his prey. In other words, they plan their routes to their prey in advance.
I'll just go quickly over this one. There's some information from Steven Wise about the degrees of mental complexity linked to sentience, and there are four different categories of mental complexity – those animals can use symbols, language deceive people, recognise himself in the mirror, down to those that have a stimulus-response machines. Most animals we don't know what their mental complexity is. And Steven Wise made the conclusion there's no sense in using science to draw the line here.
And what it really does is raise the really big question, does sentience justify moral concern? And if you think it does, go easy on your spiders and bees tonight. Those of you thinking about retiring from NAWAC and NAEAC, be interested in the new government quango - the National Insect Welfare Advisory Committee, but be warned, Stephen Wise is a lawyer, has had 20 years head start on you.
And the last one is happy hens. If you imagine genetically altered and sentient pseudo-chickens and it's not hard to imagine that, we're already got blind chickens, featherless chickens or perhaps more realistically, we have birds that their needs are provided for, but they can only experience positive emotions. The real happy hen. Intuitively we think it's wrong, its yuck, but maybe we'll get used to it, we got used to the dining fork, margarine, artificial insemination etc.
What I think it does is tell us more about us as humans than the animals themselves. So to conclude then, really want you to wonder, NAEAC and NAWAC, whether you're going feral here or whether you're progressing animal welfare? We seem to have gone from what Jeremy Bentham said "it's not whether they can talk or can they reason, it's can they suffer." We seem to be turning the clock back. Can they think about themselves?
What I really want to do is make you think about what's the most or the best way to inspire respect for animals. Is it law? Is it philosophy? Is it science? Is it common sense? etc. Is sentience going to prevent this sort of thing?
And my last slide, the title comes from the track of the Rolling Stones, 'sympathy for the devil' that was coined about the atrocities we commit on each other. And that line is "what's puzzling is the nature of the game." What are we trying to do here?
I said at the start I thought it was largely symbolic that sentience was included in the Act, and I just looked at some material in Norway who included the term 'animals have an intrinsic value' in their Animal Welfare Act. And after - you, better sit down Monica I've got the devil on my side here, - after their inclusion they said that it did not have any effect on the consequences for animal welfare.
And the last one is the Emperor's New Clothes - the horse is still the same, it's still being ridden but I just wonder whether we're starting to look about our appearance and it's this little guy in here, that's common sense that's maybe he's the only one in this scene. Thank you.
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Meeting the different expectations of producers and consumers – implications of sentience for research (14:28)
Jim leads the Animal Welfare Team at AgResearch Ltd, Ruakura. The team plays a significant role in supporting New Zealand's animal welfare framework through research relevant to animal welfare within our animal-based industries. Jim's academic background is in agricultural science, in combination with a PhD in Zoology. He has a wide range of interests and expertise covering animal production, animal welfare research, assurance programs and animals used in research testing and teaching. In his spare time, he looks after a small flock of Gotland pelt sheep and a Belgian Shepherd on a lifestyle block near Cambridge, and enjoys cycling and drinking IPAs.
[This video was filmed during a workshop in front of an audience. The speaker stands at a speaker’s podium and talks into a microphone. Sometimes, he looks or points to a screen with slides containing information to support his talk. The slides aren't shown in the video.]
Jim Webster: Thank you, pleasure to be here and I'm going to talk about research with a particular focus on our farming animals, which is my area. I acknowledge that's not the whole area of research in New Zealand but it is one that's very important to us and our economy. And I'm going to talk about research as guided by society and meets the needs of society, and it probably has a major role in helping us understand what sentience is and what our obligations are.
But you can divide society up into producers and consumers and they come at things from quite different perspectives and we have to bear in mind so that's the theme of the talk. It is important for us to meet societal expectations in New Zealand for animal use. We have to maintain our industry's license to operate, to farm is very important for New Zealand, has to be socially acceptable, and it has to be acceptable to overseas markets as well. So we're meeting the needs but quite a broad spectrum of stakeholders. And there's implications for research in incorporating sentience, or an adapted version of of sentience, highlighting it a little bit more.
Does this recognition change the expectations people have on the Act? Will the gap between what we know and what we need to know, in terms of sentience, do we understand it? Will that widen? And is this going to put more pressure on researchers to provide those answers and can we do it?
So as I mentioned, research is supported by society. We provide knowledge about animal welfare for our farming systems in New Zealand. We provide information for industries to address areas that they're concerned about. We provide solutions to enable producers to meet expectations of society. The science input gets published and goes into the public arena, so it also shapes expectations of the public about what should be happening on farm. And the final thing is it provides the sort of science platform, the science background, which supports the controlled and credible change in our laws that we have in New Zealand.
So it's an essential part of that legal process. This is a very nice study I thought which illustrates that difference in perceptions between producers and consumers, and it was a study where they showed a series of photos of different stages of production of meat chickens, and they showed these to consumers. But only that photo there, was perceived positively by the consumers. And that illustrates a nice point; that we can think we're making progress in terms of metric standards and allowing a bit more space for animals, and that could be a considerable economic cost for a producer, but it may not be conceived as an advantage at all by a consumer because it's not addressing the actual attributes they're looking for. So this thing about perceptions can actually trump research itself, and we have to bear that in mind.
So, particularly for species that we know very little about, you know whether it would - Mark's talked about that in terms of insects and fish and things like that - you know we don't know much about their experiences. And also for animals in different contexts the, context is very important, are they a pet or are we going to eat them? Are we doing research on them? So these types of perceptions and the context can cause some of the biggest differences in opinion about what's required. Now the differences in values between producers and consumers are quite clear and a number of studies have looked at this and they've shown one of the areas where there's the biggest contrast between what's expected is in natural behaviour.
So natural behaviour always comes out as being a high concern for consumers, but lower for farmers. And one recent study looked at chickens, and actually proved that point by showing that natural behaviour of chickens was, came out, as a very important attribute by consumers and that's leading to the increase in free-range production. But it wasn't as much a high criteria for producers and veterinarians.
We're also in an era of decreasing trust of our farming industries and this was a German study but I think it's still relevant, the proportion of consumers that report that farm animal welfare needs to be improved is going up, and the proportion that agree with the statement 'the farmers take good care of their animals' has declined so there's something happening there where there's a bit of a suspicion and a distrust of farming. We tend to call that an urban-rural divide, and that's acting to increase expectations on animals and provide tension between what consumers expect and what farmers are providing.
Interestingly, pet ownership played an important role in guiding expectations about food animals and there was a high correlation between that. And this increased interest in protecting food animals may stem from people's understanding about how they interact with their pets, or Belgian Shepherds. So there's another factor there that popular science is also playing a role in here, and it's providing this knowledge about animal capacities that are really quite staggering and right from information about emotions in bees, complex social emotions in dogs, to ravens and even chickens can do maths, simple maths.
So you know when you are confronted with that type of information how do you then regard what was required for animals that you are going to eat. One another point is that consumers are not all equal, and some of our work has shown that women and young people in particular are more likely to think that cows are intelligent, have distinct personalities, and feel pain in the same way humans do. So we can't just lump all consumers together either, there's differences there. So it's quite a complicated situation. Now incorporating sentience is also going to change then what matters on farm. So I think there's three key things here; if we accept that animals are sentient and have positive experiences, then the animal's experiences are the key.
So the animals experiences matter more than its performance for farming, individuals matter more than groups, so it's about the individual. And the quality of life that the animal has matters more than the duration of its life.
So those are three areas that our current research program is focusing on. So first of these is about experiences taking precedence, and it means that our approach to what we need to provide for animals and the needs and requirements, must actually start with a consideration of the animal's experience and work from there back to what we need to do to allow it to have those experiences. And Mark's already talked about and quoted Ian Duncan and I think he's very relevant here. He's talking about sentience as being the most important integrator of the animal's environment. And it's what matters the most is what animal feels about its situation,
And I think there's an interesting question here then if we're going to talk about experiences and feelings, is anthropomorphism going to become more acceptable in scientific terms? And I'd have to argue that it probably is. I think we do need to use terms like happy or sad, particularly if it gives us a common language to talk about animal experiences.
So individuals take precedence - I think this is a very important area when you're talking about sentence, it is all about the individual not the herd or flock. So we've started to think that we have to look at different individual animal personalities when designing farming systems. So there's good evidence that animals in a group do vary in their behaviour, and how they cope in farming systems. Some animals will be hiding underneath platforms for example and some will be on top, so they they're very different than their personalities so we have to include that assessment of personalities in designing how we farm systems. And interestingly on the fact that individuals take precedence, unfortunately a lot of our welfare assistance schemes currently don't take into account that individual differences or include the individual in an equal weighting.
And Peter Sandøe pointed this out at a recent conference when he asked the question should the contribution of one more lame cow depend on how many other cows in the farm are lame, and in terms of welfare quality it's a nonlinear function. So as you get more lame cows the additional count does not matter so much in terms of your welfare assessment but for the cow it does. So I think we have to give equal credence to each individual there.
Quality of life. As I mentioned that also now takes precedence and that's an interesting concept I think that allows us to integrate these positive and negative aspects of sentience over an animal's life and I think it's an area that we can use to demonstrate the quality of life of that animal in a farming system. James Yates from the RSPCA in England pointed out that one of the most important aspects of quality of life is their experiences themselves. So are they having a positive experience or a negative one? So individual experiences are important and we need to know about them, but can we measure them? And that's the challenge for research and obviously we're trying very hard to answer some of these questions.
We do have some tools at the moment, behaviour and physiology, and in detail we can look at what animals prefer to do, and how motivated they are. We can look at whether they're looking at a glass half full or a glass half empty, the cognitive bias, or we can look at how much they pay attention to a threat. We can even look at which side of the brain they're using to look at things of interest. And qualitative behavioural assessment allows us to use their own terms to describe animal's behaviour. We know that sentience is underpinned by some very clear neuroscience evidence. So we've got a lot of tools but in practical situations on farms, we can't do it very well.
A lot of these take specific training of animals, they require specific testing arenas and the like, so it's not very easy to measure sentience positive and negative experiences in farming situations. However, sentience is changing what matters on farm. And here's an example here for body condition, which is the relative degree of fat that cows carry, and you can see how an increased focus on sentience is going to shift how we have to regard that. So currently with a producer focus it might be on the herd level with regard to the health of the cows, herd production, fertility and longevity. However, with this focus on individuals we have to now understand how does an individual cow experience being thin? How does that impact its quality of life? Sentience makes the answer quite complex. For example, if the cow is hungry, cold or fearful of animals in the herd, or lethargic, a thin cow might feel bad. However if food is plentiful, if the temperature's warm and there's plenty of space a thin cow might feel perfectly good. So this makes it challenging then to assess it. If you don't feel hungry does being thinner matter? If you don't know that your hormone levels have changed, do they matter? So it emphasises how we have to put that emphasis on the experience of the cow. And sentience even modulates the nature of hunger. So if you're hungry if a cow is hungry and it can graze that might be really pleasurable and it might be a very positive experience, but if it's hungry and it can't graze then it may have become frustrated or be uncomfortable, so it can get very complex.
So finishing off, beyond ethical consumption, you know we can adapt farming systems so they better address sentience, however, what's going to happen from there? We've got this situation of increasing guilt when we understand that animals have positive and negative feelings. Wilful ignorance is now accepted as being a distinct factor in consumer behaviour, and a recent paper showed that a third of people surveyed prefer to look at a blank screen, than look at a screen that informed them about how sows were raised. So that they made a distinct decision to be ignorant and they didn't want to know and that's based on this fact of guilt, guilty consumption. We are seeing decreasing consumption of animal products and there's talk about interest in synthetic alternatives, that's gonna be a real challenge. So, are we ready and what research is needed to answer all those questions? Thank you.
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Dissecting distress: The importance of specific terminology and the value of the Five Domains model for better understanding animal welfare (15:45)
Ngaio has a PhD in animal behaviour, physiology and welfare, and is an associate professor and co-director of Massey's Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics Centre. Her research uses behavioural and physiological methods to investigate aspects of welfare in farm, companion, and wild animals. Her research themes include: Scientific evaluation of animal welfare; Understanding the range of negative experiences affecting animals' welfare; Humane methods of ‘euthanasia'; and Welfare impacts of wildlife conservation activities. She is the animal welfare science expert member of New Zealand Vet Journal Editorial Board and the Wellington Zoo Trust Animal Welfare Committee. She is also an independent scientific member of the New Zealand Animal Behaviour and Welfare Consultative Committee and the Massey University liaison for the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare.
[This video was filmed during a workshop in front of an audience. The speaker stands at a speaker’s podium and talks into a microphone. Sometimes, she looks or points to a screen with slides containing information to support her talk. The slides aren't shown in the video.]
Ngaio Beausoleil: I think I win the prize for the vaguest and most generic title. And I've been quite deliberate in that so I can say whatever I want now. So over the next 14 minutes and 59 seconds I'd like to make four key points.
The first point is that in acknowledging sentience I think what we're doing is steering ourselves towards the affective state orientation to understanding and assessing animal welfare. The second thing I want to talk about is the importance of using specific descriptions of the unpleasant or negative experiences that animals have, if we want to accurately assess animal welfare. The third point seems relatively obvious but we have actually had quite a bit of discussion about this already today, this is the idea that the absence of unpleasant or negative experiences, we now think is probably not sufficient for animals to have a good welfare status - we need more than that. And then finally I want to finish up by talking about what you guys have just been working on, the ways in which using the five domains model is valuable because it emphasises the affective states that animals have and encourages users to be both specific and comprehensive when they're undertaking welfare assessments.
So I'm not going to define sentience we've had some discussion about that, I want to make two main points and I think that these are assumptions that underpin the rest of what I'm going to say. The first is that sentience is really considered to be a prerequisite for animals having welfare to be considered at all. The second is that because sentience relates to the animal's capacity for mental experiences, our explicit acknowledgement, that at least some animals are sentient in our law, really steers us towards this affective state orientation to understanding animal welfare. And what I mean by the affective state orientation is a way of thinking or characterising welfare as being a state within the animal itself, that arises from the integration of all the different kinds of mental experiences both positive and negative that animals have at any particular point in time.
And I want to just contrast this with other ways that people commonly think about animal welfare. So another way that people think about welfare is in terms of the biological functioning orientation. And so this is where we think about animal welfare relating to the health status and the productivity of the animal, if it's healthy and producing well then probably we're okay with its welfare state. In contrast, another way of thinking about welfare is using the naturalness or the natural living orientation. And according to this orientation animal welfare relates to the naturalness of the environment that we provide and the degree to which animals can express at least most of the repertoire of their natural behaviours. So if we just look at the difference between these orientations the affective state orientation obviously as the name suggests has to do with what the animals feeling, what matters to it, how it experiences its world. The other ones really are about the physical state of the animal or the inputs that we provide so the environment we provide for example and they don't necessarily take us to the point where we're thinking about what the animal is experiencing. So the second point - if we agree that sentient animals are those that can have at least unpleasant experiences, I want to now talk a little bit about the importance of using specific terminology to both describe and in our assessments of unpleasant affective experiences.
And we've heard these words coming up today. So if we think about the way the animal welfare has been assessed in the past, and actually really commonly even today, those evaluations often centre on the absence of unpleasant things, and we hear the use of these terms all the time – the absence of pain and distress, the absence of pain and suffering, the absence of fear and distress. So we have these generic kind of composite terms, often pain and distress or suffering, and I would argue that these terms are really commonly used because we consider them to be useful for covering all our bases. We want to make sure that we catch all the unpleasant experiences that animals might have that would impact negatively on their welfare. But I would argue that in reality that using these kind of catch-all terms, like suffering and distress, actually can limit our accurate assessment of animal welfare. And there's a number of reasons for this belief and I want to just run through those quickly.
So, the use of generic terms like suffering and distress I think can be problematic because it doesn't help us understand how those unpleasant experiences arose. If you look in the literature you'll see that terms like the stress and suffering are rarely defined and that's because it's really hard to do so, we don't actually know what they mean. If we do find a definition both those terms, distress and suffering, tend to be used to indicate the badness of a primary unpleasant experience. So either it goes on for a very long time, it's a prolonged badness or it's a very intense badness. When something is prolonged or intensely bad we start to talk about distress or suffering. The problem is it doesn't actually tell us what kind of badness is prolonged or intense. So related to that first point, if we use terms like suffering and distress that doesn't help us to develop and to implement targeted solutions. In other words if we don't know what the badness is we can't fix it. We have analgesics to deal with pain. We have antiemetics to deal with feelings of nausea. We don't have any anti-distress pill. There's no such thing as an anti-suffering elixir. So we don't know how to fix it. The third problem with using terms, composite terms particularly, like pain and distress or pain and suffering is that it leads us to under emphasise the importance of other experiences. So unpleasant experiences that are not pain, they're qualitatively dissimilar from pain, but they are unpleasant and impact on animal welfare nonetheless. So things like breathlessness, nausea, sickness, fatigue and maybe if you believe in them, boredom and frustration for animals.
So we overwhelmingly put the emphasis on pain in many contexts, and we've heard that today, we do it naturally all of us do, and we see this not only in animal contexts but also when we're talking about other people. So I gave this talk a while ago and I had someone come up to me afterwards and say, this has happened to me, I had an elderly relative who was in a palliative care situation and we were repeatedly reassured by the doctors that this person was not in any pain. Well the person had a respiratory disorder and was probably not in pain, but the problem was that the main unpleasant symptom they were experiencing was probably respiratory discomfort or breathlessness but nobody was reassuring the people about that, the focus was on pain. And this potentially misguided focus can lead us to actually fail to systematically look for those other unpleasant experiences, and in fact a failure to recognise evidence that they're occurring even if they are right in front of us. So we just don't see what we're not looking for.
And I just want to quickly summarise this issue I call this the no pain no problem fallacy, but one of my students came up with a much better way of describing it which is the 'pain et al.' problem. So for anybody who's ever published a paper or knows the value of publishing a paper, we start off with a paper that was written by Beausoleil, Mellor and Johnson. The first time that paper is cited, its cited as such Beausoleil, Mellor and Johnson all get a mention. The next time it's cited it becomes Beausoleil et al. Now we have pain and distress - pain and its friends; Beausoleil et al. The third thing that happens is that I go to a conference and I talk about this fantastic paper that we wrote and suddenly everybody's talking about did you hear about Beausoleil's fantastic paper. So we've now gone from Beausoleil, Mellor and Johnson to Beausoleil. We've gone from pain, breathlessness, nausea, fatigue to pain. We look for evidence of pain, we don't find evidence of pain, no pain - no welfare problem. But we know that that's not the case. So moving on to the third point, and this is one that we've talked about quite a bit today which I think is really fantastic. This is simply the idea that if we want to provide acceptable or good welfare for animals or quality of life or life worth living, simply avoiding or mitigating unpleasant experiences is not sufficient. We have to now think about providing opportunities for positive experiences as well. And Ian's really led to this really nicely in terms of our thinking about responsibilities for those who are in charge of animals. What are those responsibilities in terms of providing opportunities for positive experiences? And I think that this changing paradigm, a changing way of thinking about providing appropriate animal welfare, is going to throw up a huge number of challenges, some of which have been alluded to already.
So I just jotted down some of the things that came to my mind from a scientific perspective. And the first one was about indicators. So we have indicators of some, at least some, unpleasant experiences that are relatively well understood and we feel that we can recognise those experiences pretty well, particularly the ones where if you don't do something about it the animal will die - the survival-critical ones. But we're still relatively early in our scientific understanding of indicators of various positive experiences, and in fact the problem is that even if you don't give the animals positive experiences they tend to survive and sometimes they're still really productive. The other things that came to my mind is I think there's gonna be a lot of debate, and this is probably what we've talked about already today, how much positive experience or how many positive experiences are required to meet the threshold for good welfare? And that becomes a legal issue which is really important. And another question might be, can we actually offset some unavoidable negative experiences by providing opportunities for some positives?
So the final point I want to make, is about the five domains model which you've all had an opportunity to have a play around with, and this is the point really that the five domains model I think can help emphasise the importance of sentience when we want to assess animal welfare. So for those of you who were not previously familiar with the model, I just want to give you a quick run-through of our latest version and our latest thinking about how the model might be applied. So as the name suggests the model has five domains, there are four physical or functional domains, and you can see these listed on the left hand side here, and we have one affective experience domain which is about mental experiences. So the four physical or functional domains - domain one's about nutrition and hydration, domain two is about the environment physical and sensory environment, domain three is about health and functional status and the fourth domain we refer to is behaviour and I sometimes talk about this one as being interaction both interaction with the environment itself and interaction with other animals including people.
So just to add to that within each of those physical functional domains, as you guys have just done, we talk about restrictions and problems. These can then aligned to specific unpleasant or negative mental experiences in the fifth domain. In each of the four physical domains we also have opportunities or solutions and those again would align with specific positive mental experiences in the fifth domain. So what we do using the model is we use scientific indicators to evaluate the occurrence of those physical restrictions and problems, or opportunities and solutions. And the really key point I want you to take away, if you want to apply this model, is that we put things that we can observe, measure, quantify - the tangible things - go in the physical and functional domains. Behavioural, physiological those kinds of indicators go in the first four domains. Some of those will be animal based indicators, so things that animals do in response to what we provide, and some of them might be resource or management based. So there is a bucket of water there for example. We use that body of information, which we've collated in the first four physical functional domains, to then carefully interpret what those indicators are telling us in terms of the animal's affective experiences. So we cannot measure, we cannot quantify mental experiences, they are by definition internal, subjective, intangible, only the animal knows what they feel like. So we can never measure those. All we can do is use the information from the things that we can observe and measure to make careful scientific inferences about what the animal might be experiencing. And that's a really key point about the five domains, you have to go to the fifth domain to understand what all your evidence means to the animal itself.
So, I would propose that the five domains model is really valuable because of its structure. And the reason I say that is because the structure of the model encourages users to do what I've just said. To actually go from what we can observe and measure and quantify, and then carefully, cautiously, using the available science, interpret what it means to the animal itself. What it means in terms of the animal's mental or affective experiences. And some of those other orientations to animal welfare like the naturalness one and the physical state, the biological functioning orientations, don't encourage moving that next step forward - they stop in the physical functional domains.
So just to quickly show you some examples, I don't know if you can read those, but the point I want to make here is just this is some examples from the third domain about health and functional status. Injury is important because it causes an unpleasant experience, it causes pain to the animal and we use the behavioural and physiological indicators to infer that the animal is experiencing pain. Likewise if the animal breathes harder and faster because it has a respiratory disease, it matters because the animal is experiencing some kind of unpleasant breathlessness.
The model is also useful because its structure encourages users to look for evidence, or evidence of absence, of a wide range of specific negative experiences. And again this is just an example if you can't read it really all I want you to see is that there are a whole lot of red examples in domain five. These are various negative experiences, they are specific, we're not looking for evidence of distress or suffering because what are they and how do recognise them? We're looking for evidence of specific things like thirst, breathlessness, pain, boredom and thermal discomfort. So the Model acts as what David calls an aide memoire and basically it encourages us to look to see which of these are actually evidenced by what the animal is doing and what we're providing. Likewise the structure of the model actually encourages us to look for evidence for or against the presence of a wide range of positive experiences. And it's also valuable because it can help suggest ways that we might provide opportunities for animals to have positive experiences that we wouldn't otherwise have thought of.
And again this is just showing the wide range of positives, and this is not comprehensive, just reminding us what to look for. So just to conclude before I get pulled off the stage, my first point was that the affective state orientation to animal welfare is consistent with our new explicit emphasis on sentience because both of them focus on the animals mental experiences. Animal welfare assessments should interpret the observable indicators in terms of the specific affective states, in other words what matters to the animal itself, and we should look for evidence of a wide range of both the negative and positive experiences. And because of its structure the use of the five domains model supports the affective state orientation and it encourages users to be both specific and comprehensive when evaluating animal welfare. Thank you
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Soulless machines to sentient beings – what does sentient mean for veterinarian's treatment of animals? (15:23)
Virginia Williams: Yes I am speaking from a vet's perspective, also I was asked at the last minute to add in a little bit about research, testing and teaching. So although this looks like it's just about vets, well it's still about vets I suppose. Soulless machines. I'm going back to Rene Descartes who I have a slightly different slant on than Mark did, because Rene Descartes saw, although he was a very famous philosopher and I think therefore I am and all that stuff, he saw animals as soulless machines and that couldn't feel pain. To the extent that he took his wife's pet dog, nailed her down on the dissecting table and dissected her alive. Not his wife, his wife's dog, and just discounted all the screams and noises that were coming from the dog as just reactions that didn't have anything to do with pain at all.
So I do think we've come quite a long way since then. We know that the nervous systems of most of the animals we treat as veterinarians are essentially similar to our own. We know they feel pain and we know that they're sentient. I think Gwyn talked this morning about how, from an early age she thought, she thought of animals as being sentient in the terms that we're thinking about that at the moment and I think that's so of veterinarians as well. It is unfortunate that although most of us went into veterinary science because we have a love of and empathy with animals, our animals don't always think of us in quite the same way.
In fact we're probably the last person they really want to see. But yes, I mean I think a lot of animals really don't, I'll just go onto the next slide, they don't always want to be, the smell of the clinic and all this, maybe a long plastic glove that's the kind of thing that really they don't like us for and we do things to them that really they may not like. Even though in this one here he's actually put it in a local before he does something that would hurt more if he didn't put the local in.
So just back here, the NZVA does have, has thought about sentience, and has written about it. We saw that in Ian's talk, so that's something that they've taken on board really fast. But when we think about sentience, alongside all the things that we do to animals that they might not like, we can also maximize positive treatment experiences. Because the essence of our profession really is to make sure that animals live healthy, happy, productive, stress-free lives and it's really what we're after. Minimising the negative and maximising the positive.
Disease control is a major one for us of course. You cannot be having positive experiences if you're sick and there are all these other things that veterinarians do in terms of actually helping animals be healthy and helping their owners to actually make sure of that. Having well-trained staff in the vet clinic is an absolute must.
Oh what did I do.
So one of the major things that we can do is the minimisation of pain. When I first trained as a veterinarian quite a long time ago we certainly were taught about minimising pain and pain relief but when I got into practice the general rule was that a little bit of pain after an operation was good because it kept the animals still and there was less of a chance of the breakdown of the wound, which I think is probably an absolute indictment on surgical technique, but nevertheless that was kind of the thing that was happening at the time. Once I got into practice there just wasn't any pain relief going on very much at all. It's a bit different now but not entirely.
There was a paper of a survey of equine veterinarians published in the New Zealand Veterinary Journal 2010 by Natalie Waren, I thought Natalie might have been here but she isn't unfortunately, Professor of Animal Welfare, on the use of analgesics and horses. And the procedure that was given that was the most painful was potential surgical colic, which you can imagine is a very, very painful problem. 82 percent of the respondents scored this, on a pain scale of 1 - 10, scored this above 8. Sixteen percent put it in the 4 – 7 range and 2 percent inexplicably put it in the 1 - 3 range, which is quite a variation really I mean you see most of them up the top but to have two vets saying its 1 - 3. Fortunately they all gave them pain relief so at least that was covered. But it was really quite a surprise to find that range. But pain relief had certainly come a long way and multimodal analgesia is standard, is in use in practice now. But treating animals for pain is only one thing that we're looking at.
Another thing is to maximise positive experiences and one of the things that that does get veterinarians going is the breeding of animals with conformational disorders. Too many of our purebred animals, particularly dogs and cats, but also others like miniature horses, have compromised lives because of poor conformation or inherited disease. While genetic testing for the latter is coming along in leaps and bounds, we still have too many people breeding animals to a defined structural standard that's not good for their welfare. Now the New Zealand Kennel Club has done a lot of work in this area they have an accredited breeder scheme but the majority of their breeders do not belong to that scheme and there's also a lot of breeding that goes on well outside the realms of the New Zealand Kennel Club. And we were continually getting brachiocephalic dogs with compromised respiratory function and this is an area where veterinarians can really work quite hard on their clients and point out that the deficiencies I suppose of, and the ongoing costs they will incur with these kind of animals.
Somebody talked about obesity before, I got these off the internet. The picture of this cat up here was labelled our happy cat, so that's not seen as anything there's anything being wrong with that cat, that's our happy cat. In fact there was another cat that was so enormously more grossly obese than that, that I thought maybe it's been photo-shopped and I thought I wouldn't put that one up but it was just truly, and the same goes for the pony there was another pony that I just couldn't believe what I was seeing so I thought perhaps you wouldn't believe me either. So many owners are blind to this problem they just will not see it and I think it is a difficult one to deal with but it's an area that's really important but because of course these animals have compromised health and a shortened lifespan and it's just not good for them, diabetes etc.
A good death, euthanasia. That dog is my dog it's not dead, she's just lying on her back grinning really but this is another area where veterinarians can really make a difference in terms of ensuring that sentience is accounted for when is the right time for an animal to be euthanized. The interests of the patient have to be prioritised. When is the life, through illness or age, not worth living anymore and there does come a time, I mean I'm personally a great fan for human euthanasia, so you can see that I would also be happy to, you know of people that are ready. I can hear giggles in the background. I'm not about to come down and euthanise people [laughter] but it's a real skill to work with clients to find the right time to actually encourage or suggest euthanasia for an animal. And the real skill is in getting the people to decide that they decided for themselves. So that's a little bit about veterinarians.
Of course veterinarians are also working in the area of research, they're working as animal welfare officers and NZVA representatives on Animal Ethics Committees. In fact we had we had a meeting yesterday of a group of those particular veterinarians who are making a real contribution in the areas of making sure that sentience is allowed for within the research testing and teaching arena as well. But just for those of you who may not be quite so familiar with this area, there is a special part of the Animal Welfare Act, part six, which allows deliberate harm to be done to animals as long as it's gone through a real set of criteria. And that's basically a cost-benefit analysis where the cost to the animals has to be outweighed by the benefits of whatever the research is going to be. So, this kind of research can only be done under codes of ethical conduct, that are approved by the government and anything that's going to be done to the animals has to be approved by an animal ethics committee which has three independent members on them.
And the animal ethics committees are all regularly reviewed. There's also the three Rs; reduction, refinement and replacement and Grant talked quite a bit about replacement this morning of the different things that are coming in so that we can stop using animals as much as possible. But I'd also like to point out that in New Zealand, most of the animals that are used, or the majority of animals that are used in research, testing and teaching go back to the farm afterwards and are sentient on the farm, because at least 65 percent of the animals we use are farm animals, and most of those, 98 percent I think, remain alive at the end of the at the end of the experimentation or research. But without a doubt there are animals that suffer for research, testing and teaching.
And I would suggest that with the incorporation of sentience there's a higher bar. We've already got a higher bar set because when you're doing things like this on the farm, you can just go ahead and do it, this is without animal analgesia, disbudding without analgesia. If you're doing that under a research protocol you have to have ethical approval. So although it's a normal farming practice stricter things apply within the research centre.
I suppose the area that is most contentious is the one on about trying to find more humane areas of, methods of pest control, particularly now that we're aiming for Predator Free 2050. I think that because we want to save our endangered wildlife, this is something where the cost-benefit has been weighed, has been in favour of finding ways to kill sentient animals, so that we can save other sentient animals. This work all has to be approved by Animal Ethics Committees, just as I said.
The other area that's of major concern for me is impoverished environments for laboratory animals. Although we've got enriched environments for some, a lot of animals live in impoverished ones like this. And we've just discovered that actually these little red shelters that are all over the place actually change the biology of the animals so that they're actually not good research animals anyway. And euthanasia again, carbon dioxide euthanasia is one that I have real problems with, it's not euthanasia it's not a pleasant death for all these reasons here.
So euthanasia seems like a good time to stop, particularly seeing as you're standing up there. So I apologise if that was a quick run-through but I had a bit of a double whammy to do there. Okay so that's me.[Video ends]
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Nick de Graaff
Promoting positive animal welfare: The Zoo and Aquarium Association Accreditation Program (16:47)
Nick has worked in the zoo industry for over 20 years fulfilling roles in animal husbandry, collection management, exhibit planning and legislative compliance. Since 2013 Nick has performed in the role of accreditation manager for the Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia. Nick facilitates the development and implementation the Association's Accreditation Program which is primarily focussed on assessment and promotion of ‘positive' welfare. Nick holds a Bachelor of Science (Biology) and is an associate of the Massey University Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics Centre.
Nicolas de Graaf: Okay good afternoon everyone. Thanks for inviting me to come from Australia to give a short talk to you guys about our accreditation programme. So today we heard a lot about the theory and the philosophy behind sentience and what that means to animal welfare, and I guess the reason why I was asked to come is to see how we can share what we've learnt by actually trying to apply this knowledge in the assessment process.
To actually recognise and validate the concept of positive welfare in our animals. So the framework for incorporation of positive welfare state into the welfare assessment is what we do, that's the accreditation program primarily is really about assessing for positive welfare in the animals in our member organisations. We do build upon the five domains model in this sense. Now back in 2013 we talked when the board made the decision that this is the direction our accreditation program is going to take. We all sat there initially going well, how we're going to make this work?
Positive welfare - how do we assess that? How do we, we've got such a variety of animals there's going to be differences between species - how does this work? And what we found though is the 5 domains model actually, at the time we had a belief that it was going to be very helpful, and it turns out it was. So our program really builds upon the five domains model and that means we also take into account that we recognise that animals can have negative and positive affective states.
So just a quick background, in 2013 when we started our program, we do three-year accreditation cycles. Last year we finished the first of those three year cycles. It says accreditation round two, we're actually counting round one as the original accreditation program which is more your traditional approach to accreditation in zoos. But in this accreditation round two, the focus was on positive animal welfare. So a few quick stats here - 87 out of 92 members were assessed in this program of which 744 separate assessments were done on exhibits which covered about 241 different species. So we can look at this three-year program almost like a giant pilot study.
We didn't know what to expect, we didn't know what we're gonna learn through this process, but we've actually learned a lot by going through all this. And so what I hope to do today is actually share some of these key learnings that we had, and pass it on, because ideally promoting positive welfare in every industry would be a great thing. Actually just to go back on that one, I should mention that our ZAA members that covers both Australia and New Zealand. We have members in both countries. Recently we've also got Papua New Guinea that's joined our region and we also, when we talk about the number of species that we've assessed we've arranged from the high order animals, the great apes, right down to invertebrates.
We actually trialled it on invertebrates because we wanted to know how would how would it work out. So here's some key learnings that we got from this whole process. We struggled with trying to identify these things over time, we're building it together, we're still working on it and we're strengthening our program. But one of the biggest key learnings we got out initially, was that we needed different criteria to assess for positive welfare. Now for example here we go, which is probably a criteria that we're probably more familiar with, is the animal getting too hot or too cold? We apply that in a lot of assessments for welfare. What we're really looking at though if we unpack that is, are we just minimising that negative experience? The animal's too hot to cold, how can we remove that negative experience? So to assess positive welfare we need to come up with new criteria. New criteria that recognises the positive experience.
So by comparison we should be asking questions like, is the animal experiencing thermal related pleasures? You know basking in the sun, the warmth that's involved in that, or the animal seeking a nice cool area because it's slightly overheated and that feeling of lying on that, initial feeling of going on a cool surface, those are the experiences we're kind of looking for. Now this is, not only do have to develop that criteria, we also found it's very important to develop awareness and understanding as to why the different criteria applies. Because what we're finding is if we're asking the second question, for example, quite often we get the response that addressed the first question. And that was because we're still trying to familiar, familiarise ourselves with the concept of positive experiences, mental experiences in animals.
So the second key learning we have here was assessing for good care, good housing, does not mean positive experiences are automatically occurring. Now what I mean there is, when we apply a prescribed set of procedures and husbandry to an animal. Yes it's good care, but is the animal actually getting a positive experience from it? A good example would be health checks - it's in the interests of the animal, it's good for the animal overall but the experience of being captured and restrained - not so positive for the animal. We can justify that by saying doesn't happen often, the animal learns to cope with it, it gets over it, yes it does. But when we start putting it in the context of; let's say we want to make sure the animal is ultra healthy every day and it goes through that experience every day. We'd be questioning its welfare. So time scale has a role to play in this, but it all comes back to what we're actually talking about is, how we provide good care to our animal. What we really need to be focusing on is what the animal is experiencing.
So in the same sort of way, it's a bit like leading the horse to water analogy - good care provides the opportunities for the animals to have positive experiences, we provide the right things for the animal, so that it can engage with it. But the real question is, is the animal actually effectively engaging with these opportunities? And so to do that we need to develop an assessment tool that can establish if these positive experiences are occurring. Which is what the five domains model sets out to achieve and our assessment tool that we're developing from all these things that we've learnt is building upon that as well.
Now you might notice when we talk about good care as well we might be thinking about a subtle redefinition of good care. Maybe good care is no longer about providing the stuff that has been predefined by external bodies of experts, maybe good care should be defined by how well we respond and support the individual animal's experience. And so it's not about what we do repeatedly, or we do the same that everybody else does, it's really about what's the animal telling us and what can we do to support what the animals telling us? Another key learning now is recognising animals have different affective states - it means the same criteria can be as consistently applied between different species, individuals from the same species, and animals in different situations. Animals in zoos, laboratories, farms, as pets, possibly even in the wild.
So I'll run through an example to sort of help explain this point. If we look at, we could talk about a gorilla and a lizard, we're assessing their welfare. Now this is the five domains model as published by Ngaio Beausoleil and David Mellor in a 2015 paper I believe, yes, and it lists out the conditions that an animal might have in the physical functional domains, the four of them up there, and the relative mental experiences that it might have underneath. Now in this one case we're going to be looking at the opportunity to eat a variety of foods, because we want to understand, does the animal experience pleasures of different tastes and textures by eating this food? Now we look at a gorilla, and gorillas are quite obvious, they actually do what we call pleasure grumbles. We provide the gorillas with a wide variety of foods that we can all appreciate, because we eat similar foods, different vegetables, different fruits, different types of browse, and gorillas will actually quite obviously show us what they prefer. They hoard everything, they squabble over a couple of preferred items, and they pleasure grumble when they get something really juicy like a mango they really go *gorilla grumble* and it's a pleasure to watch, you know and so it's quite obvious. So if we were assessing a gorilla and we can say, does a gorilla have the experience of having pleasurable taste in its diet - there's the evidence. Yes it does.
Now we could apply the same criteria to a lizard. Dose the lizard have the opportunity to have a pleasurable experience tasting its food? The answer is yes, we actually discovered this. We assessed one of our zoos and we actually ask this question. So as you can see we're asking the same question, we're applying the same criteria, to different species but we're still getting similar results. So what we found in this case the story behind this, this is a sleeper lizard or a shingleback. We talked about diet variety and they were saying, yeah well these guys eat, you know, invertebrates and vegetables, and we give it lizard mix and blah blah blah. And I said well that's all well and good, that's good care, thank you for telling me that - where's the positive experience in this? And they said you know what, now that we think about it, it loves strawberries. And at the time we didn't realise, even the staff didn't realise, until we had that discussion. So they sent me this photo afterwards to show, because they could say we can guarantee every time a strawberry goes in that enclosure that's what it goes for immediately. So of course we need to make sure we don't over feed at the strawberries and provide any sort of compounding nutritional health effects from it, however, what we've identified is that even lizards can have a positive experience, as its demonstrated there.
Now of course we don't truly know, we need to have research and data to back that up, but, however, the critical argument behind this is telling us for all intents and purposes, the animal's engaging with this because it probably likes to. So if we move that through that five domains and we keep assessing the welfare of the animals, it might get a bit murkier.
So let's move into behaviour and let the opportunity to engage in maternal rearing of young. So the bonding that goes on, the pleasures and the feelings of reward that the parents might go through, through the experience of raising offspring. Again, for a gorilla; quite obvious. We can say in a healthy stable group of gorillas you got your silverback male overlooking his harem with females. Every female has one or two or three offspring at different ages and they're all involved. And you can see them hug each other, they nurse, they play, they engage, and you can see that. And based on that evidence we're going, yeah, that's another positive experience. And along with all the other positive experiences we're identifying through this process, its welfare is looking pretty good, we haven't found any negative ones either. So when we look at the lizard, we ask the question, any lizard, doesn't have to be a particular species, do they have that experience? We don't know.
And so that leads us to another key learning, and that is we must acknowledge that there is gaps in our knowledge of species. We need to create a framework that allows, as we learn this stuff, we need to create a framework that can sort of build in, and what we're actually doing is expanding our knowledge pool as we go through it. Until then, those questions can't be answered. It doesn't mean we have to decide whether it's negative or positive to the animal. It's actually going to be okay to say, we don't have this knowledge. But that's not enough, we shouldn't just ignore it. What we also need to be doing is talking about, well if we don't know, maybe we need to find out? Where's the research [bell]? So the other part to this would be, sorry the bell threw me off but thank you, the situation I'll move on, I can't remember what it was.
So the final point - when is positive welfare good enough? This question has been asked a number of times already in the couple of talks today, and we experience the same problem with our assessments. Individual animals have different lives, which means they have different opportunities, which means they have different positive experiences. An animal in a social herd, for example, maybe not a herd, any social hierarchy of any animal - the alpha and beta males and females, may get the opportunity to breed and rear young and the positive experiences that are associated with that. However the subordinates don't - meerkats are an example, hunting dogs are another one. Does that mean the welfare of the Alpha is more positive than the welfare of the subordinates? Do we have an obligation then to force every animal to breed to meet a positive benchmark?
So, my answer to that would be no we don't. What we have to recognise is that in that social situation those animals, as individuals, have their own positive experiences they don't have to be the same. They all play a part and they all play a role. So as a benchmark for positive welfare at this stage, rather than trying to define exactly what experiences every animal must have, what we need to do is identify that as long as the animals negative experiences are continuously minimised, and as long as positive experiences are continuously promoted, continuously enhanced, you can't set and forget because their needs change over time. You need to be on top of it, you need to be watching it, you need to be, the moment you see that opportunity, throw in what you can for that experience to be promoted.
Then perhaps that's good enough, for now, because we don't know where the benchmarks and the scores or however we want to see it down the road of how it falls out. All we need to say is, if it's positive, it's positive. And what we do encourage though is we can see there's gaps, where we find, you know what in that particular criteria not well, well we've at least minimised negative experience, but you know what, we can actually promote a positive by doing something more. So that's when we should be saying why don't you do it? Because if we're promoting that then, with time, the individual animals welfare is only getting better and better.
The final point I want to say is in this whole thing you probably notice that I'm talking to the person who takes care of the animal, the animal that takes care of the animal, and what we need to do is recognise that they're the experts and the reason why is because they're the ones who know the individual animals and their lived experience, and they can respond and interpret what they're seeing appropriately. Of course they need to include species knowledge, I would be concerned if people were just making up ideas of what they understand of the species, they need to back it up with evidence.
However, we do need to look at the zoo, the carer, or the the people who do the husbandry, as the ones who can inform us when we do these welfare assessments and they have to back it up with evidence, such as that photo of the lizard and the strawberry. And this is a great quote. This summarises all these key learnings. This is one of our zoo members that came up with this quite early on and I loved it so much I quote her every time I do these talks. She thought about it after we did a review on the day and she said you know what I've just realised she said, the benchmark is how your animal responds to what you do, not what other zoos do. And I was like, that's brilliant, because that is exactly right. It means the animal can just tell us or inform us what it's experiencing and if we read that appropriately we can adjust what we do and make it according. So every zoo in the accreditation program, any organisation really not just in zoos and aquariums, can actually benchmark themselves against their own animals to promote positive welfare. Anyway that's all I'll say for now so thank you very much.[Video ends]
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Towards a good life for farm animals – Leveraging positive welfare innovation
Jessica has a degree in Psychology, Masters in animal behaviour, and PhD in dairy cattle welfare. Jessica spent 5 years working with the major farm assurance schemes in the UK to embed welfare outcome assessment for animal welfare advancement for major livestock species. She worked with the laying hen sector to develop a resource-based positive welfare framework, and brought farmers and industry stakeholders together to solve animal welfare challenges using practice-led innovation as part of Hennovation. She returned to the Animal Behaviour and Welfare group at Bristol Veterinary School to use participatory approaches to develop positive welfare frameworks for dairy and sheep, and to facilitate the International Federation of Higher Welfare Assurance.
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Panel discussion (45:45)
At the end of the workshop, some of the earlier speakers spoke in a panel discussion to answer questions about animal sentience.
[This video was filmed during a workshop in front of an audience. The panel members sit at a table on stage and answer questions that Grant Shackell asks them. Grant is standing at a speaker podium.]
Grant Shackell: Thank you very much Annie, and thank you to every single one of you in this room for coming along. The thing that has impressed both Gwyn and I, is the fact that you've all come here with an open mind and that you've all engaged and it's been really interesting to see that animated discussion around each of the tables and there has been no lack of discussion. The two committees thought about this day and what we might do with it and we're just a bunch of people that have been taken from the public and put together to be committees. We can't actually operate without secretarial support and we get our support from MPI because that's where the ACT sits and I would really like to, before we do anything else, to publicly thank Jen and the rest of the team from MPI for helping organise this day. Getting such a wide variety of people here to talk about a subject that really is dear to the heart of all of us. So would you please thank Jen and her team from MPI.
So what we've done, we have got out in the back there, an incredible amount of paper. And we've got an incredible number of questions and a far from incredible amount of time. So what we'd had to do is look at those questions, sort of group them, synthesise them and then pick one that is perhaps representative. So if your question's not here it's not because it wasn't a good question, it's just as important as the ones that do get asked. So what we're going to do is we're going to ask each of the panel a question and then we've got a few questions here that ah, could be answered by anybody and we're going to throw it open and they're going to fight amongst themselves. When I did my opening talk I put up a photograph, I didn't put up a photograph this time we've actually got a tableau and here they all are. I'm not going to circle anybody as to who's interested and who's not watching and who doesn't really want to be here, but here they all are.
Just lately when I've been thinking about this thing I came across a quote not so long ago which I thought you might be interested in hearing. The one thing that I didn't do is attribute it to where it came from. I can't remember. It's just a good quote and the quote is "animals can't speak for themselves, so we have to listen to them very carefully." And I believe that that's quite a good thing to keep in the back of our minds when we're thinking about the things that we've thought about today. So what I'm going to do now is put a question to a panel member and let's see where we go.
So I'm going to start with Ian because Ian you started the day and the question I guess is two parts - how can we legally ensure positive welfare and how can happy and sad be translated into legal requirements?
Ian Robertson: It's very rarely I get it. Can you hear me? Yes, now? It's very rarely I get accused of not being able to be heard, so thank you for that confluence as well. Look, thank you for the question. The pivotal words in that question itself is the word legal. So there are multiple disciplines represented here but focusing on legal, it helps to answer the question if we first very briefly remind ourselves of the process that if there are questions about legal compliance, then that's reported frequently for example by a neighbour or other member of the public to the relevant Authority. That's then investigated, evidence is collated and a range of subjective frequently a subjective assessments accompanied by empirical, wherever available, evidence is compiled. Decisions are made by lawyers, managers, the officer or officers engaged, assisted by relative experts. If charges are laid then you've got the court or the judge involved, you've got the prosecutor and you've got the defense counsel. Lawyers can you nod if I've left anything out of that brief summary. With that revision, out of that falls out how to respond to, how do we legally compel positive welfare. From that the first thing we notice is that we're talking positive welfare that was also in the question. That's the third element right that I was talking about earlier on.
So what was the question that was put at the table - what are we going to ensure compliance with? Before we can ensure the 'what', we've got to be clear about what the 'what' is and that's why we're advocating a definition to be provided. Because from that definition comes the responsibility, or clarity regarding the responsibility, and therefore for the enforcers, clarity about, and that's your comment, what they're actually enforcing. How can you enforce something if you don't know what it is you're enforcing, right? So start with the definition, then get the education and so that applies then that's the 'what' that needs to be clarified. And then the 'who' that's the folk that need to in that process about legal process and legal considerations falls out of that the officers, the courts, the lawyers including the experts and that's where the information, all day but particularly this afternoon, from Ngaio, Nick and Jessica is the evidence. Yeah I'm aware of cases already that it's not just veterinarians who may turn up to assess a situation on a farm but also they're our relevant experts. What Alan and I, used to work with him, would referred to as 'train wrecks'. You know, collect the evidence and in terms of a positive state of welfare it's key that the evidence is there. I appreciate that's a longer answer but three parts - process, what are we enforcing for legal compatibility and then who needs to understand it so that positive welfare outcomes can be applied. Thank you. Thoughts on that?
[Inaudible talk between panel members]
Excellent that was called an attempt to pass the buck and failed, thanks Ngaio.
Grant Shackell: Thank you very much Ian. So the next question is for Mark. Mark, how does innate behaviour actually fit into the concept of sentience and. I'll add, no I'll ask you that one yeah.
Mark Fisher: You mean there's a supplementary question? This is a really easy one for me to answer. I have absolutely no idea Grant. Is it as important as learned behaviour? I'd suspect so. That's about as far as I can go.
Grant Shackell: Gee thanks Mark. Supplementary question. Oh yeah, I'm happy to take it, yes please.
Ngaio Beausoleil: Um this brings up another question I think for me which is the the difficulty with using the framework of behavioural needs because it really begs the question of how do we recognise a need as opposed to something that an animal might value, but is not necessary for necessary for what, for survival? So the the behavioural needs that are necessary for survival are very obvious because if we don't fulfill them, the animal dies but there are a whole range of other behaviours that animals are highly motivated to express and those are probably the ones we think about as being the innate ones, but the animal survives if it doesn't have the opportunity to express those behaviours, so is it a need? How do we know and I find that a challenging framework to use for welfare assessment which is why I prefer the five domains for example because it focuses on minimising unpleasant experiences and maximising positive experiences as opposed to having to recognise and delineate what a behavioural need is, as opposed to a luxury or a want.
Grant Shackell: Thanks Ngaio. Anybody else want to add to that? Because that actually segues into a question that I was going to put to all of you. You may like to continue or you may like to pass the microphone. If sentience is awareness of self, how do we actually know that if an animal is experiencing something that it's actually aware of what's happening? Yep. This has been taken from a piece.if sentience could be interpreted as an awareness of self, how do we actually know that if the animal is experiencing something that it's actually aware of what's happening to it? Can we know that?
Virginia Williams: It's working? Is sentience is that, is that a definition of sentience?
Grant Shackell: It's not, it's an interpretation of sentience.
Virginia Williams: I'm not sure that it's a valid one, so I'm not going to answer the question.
Grant Shackell: Okay!
Ngaio Beausoleil: In cognitive science there are a whole level, a range of levels of awareness of self, that are and there are various tests that are used to see whether a particular species or individual can achieve that level of awareness and we don't necessarily align an animal's ability to experience positive and negative states or feelings with awareness of self at any of those different levels. Grant: Yeah that's fine so that actually that actually moves. If you just pass a microphone one to your right please. Because there's a question here for Jim. So Jim, how do we prioritise research efforts in order to determine negative and positive states? How do we actually put them into which which order that we're going to, that we need to look at them?
[Inaudible talk between panel members]
Jim Webster: There you go, it works. Yes, so do we just go for the easy ones whether they're positive or negative? I think bringing this new emphasis on sentience doesn't mean we should take our eye off the negative ones and I think that they're particularly important because we all know how noxious negative experiences are, so I think they'll always be important and we should keep working on those. We know we haven't solved a lot of negative experiences yet. But the new wider definition of sentience we're appreciating that animals can have positive experiences and we should try and promote them whether that's a legal need or not. I think it just gives us a more holistic approach to it where we can do both at the same time I think.
Grant Shackell: Okay. Nick! We have this question for you which is an interesting one I felt. How can we have a valid framework for assessing positive state when the animals are actually in an artificial environment?
Nick de Graaf: Great question. I wish I had a simple answer. Unfortunately that question isn't a simple one to ask either. So I've been writing some thoughts on this, I don't know much time I have to answer a question? You're okay at the moment. Okay, stop me when I go to long. I guess the first thing, and it's been touched on which is why I didn't want to add to some comments, because I knew I was going to be touching on these points as well. When I'm trying to think of how to answer, provide a simple answer I guess what we want to say is we need the animals to tell us what it needs or what it wants, and that will guide us then in what is provided to it. When we talk about the idea of being in an artificial environment I guess my interpretation from this question is that when it's in a natural environment its welfare is assured and I probably would like to challenge that. I would like to say that an animal in a natural environment also has negative experiences. Different to the experiences that it would have in an artificial environment but they're still negative. So an example there would be an animal that isn't cared for, so it's a wild environment it's totally natural it has to find its own food. What if there's a drought and there's a food shortage, or a crash in prey species? They suffer. They go hungry.
Same thing for when they injure themselves there's no treatment they have to put up with the pain, disease in the wild. So just being in a natural environment doesn't mean their welfare is always good. It can be good at times but of course it can be bad at other times. Now when we look at an artificial environment we're really referring to the affective state of the animal in this instance and so you can still have animals with positive and negative experiences in an artificial environment and it's on us to make sure that we minimise those negative experiences and yet promote the positive ones. We were talking earlier at our table this morning about a koala situation which I want to raise here and it was a really good piece where we, Koalas in the wild in Australia put up with cold temperatures because they're in trees, it gets cold in winter, they just put up with it. I wouldn't be able to say for sure whether they actually enjoy that time, but we know that they can tolerate it at least. Now there's an interesting situation in one of the zoo's, most zoos that keep Koalas, allow their Koalas to be exposed to the winters, because that's normal, that's natural but there's this one zoo that provides heated dens for their Koalas and that's unnatural or artificial. But the interesting thing was was that every morning when the keepers go to check the koalas to see how they fared over the night, where do they find them? In the heated dens. And so what that's telling us is they're probably going in there because they like it because if it's warm, maybe it's a sense of security as well, maybe there's other reasons for it but for now let's assume they're going in because it's warm.
Now that's an unnatural experience for the animal they won't get that opportunity if they were in the wild however that opportunity presents itself and the animals engaging with that opportunity most likely because it enjoys it. So there's no reason to think it's having a negative experience but it is having a positive one and another way to look at this as well is when we look in the in the wild the wild is shrinking and and so what we need to do is look to our animals, and this is where I started with I guess with my answer, is we need to look at to the animals to tell us what it is that we need to provide for them because as their wild environments are shrinking it's going to depend more and more on human care anyway. We need to make sure that they are provided with the sufficient space to find their food if we expect the food to be sustainably sourced by the animal. As in we don't actually have to put the food down to the animals it grows naturally. We have to make sure there's enough or sufficient decrease on pressure on the environment so that we know that the food sources are sustainable. We might get to a point we're gonna have to manage that anyway.
So it really comes down to what's artificial and what's not and so I think the other thing too is we zoos, this is a new journey for the zoo industry. Other zoo associations around the world the American Association, European, South East Asia. They're really looking at our program with a lot of interest because they also agree that change has to come, in that as we learn more and understand more about our animal's experiences, our industry will change to accommodate for that. So we can't actually assume that what we see today is what we're going to see in a hundred years. It might be completely different. It really depends on what we learn and what we embrace. So I hope that helps. I don't know if it directly answers the question but there's a lot of ins and outs with that particular scenario.
Grant Shackell: Thanks, Nick. There was a little comment in there, I don't know whether it resonated with anybody about the Koala is living in cold environments that they may not like it but they put up with it. Yeah so that sort of takes us to a question that was put for Ngaio, should the expectations of a good quality of life be the same for animals in zoos as it is for production animals?
Ngaio Beausoleil: I had a couple of minutes to think about this and I have a short answer and a very long answer. So the short answer, and I'd be keen to hear what other people think is, why not? Why would we expect to provide different quality of life for different kinds of animals? So that kind of leads me into the longer answer which is that perhaps there's an assumption, and I could be wrong here, that the degree of sentience or the capacity to experience unpleasant experiences particularly, is different between those two groups of animals. Does anybody think that's the case? So if we think about a giraffe and a sheep, is there any biological reason to think that they have different capacities for experiencing unpleasant and pleasant things? Yeah.
Grant Shackell: There were a lot of questions around this wider topic of which I mention in my talk about George Orwell, about some animals. All animals are sentient, but are some more sentient than others.
Ngaio Beausoleil: So I just want to raise one quick point on that because I have the microphone, which is um, I mean what is the minimum standard for inclusion in the sentience club and I don't think that we've really tackled that yet and so when I think of it and I know that Craig Johnson's thought about this quite a bit and we've come up with different discussions about how we can decide who gets into the club and who doesn't as a starting point before we decide whether there are different degrees of sentience on top of that, and we seem to default to the neural capacity to experience pain. And that's probably a sensible place to start but what I started thinking about was whether or not pain is the most relevant or most useful and pleasant sensation for all different animals. So what I was thinking about is the way that we think about unpleasant experiences is as signals to tell the animal something is going wrong, or is likely to go wrong, if you don't do something differently. So they act as signals to say to the animal you need to change something there's a threat to your survival and that's kind of what gives them their survival benefit. So the question is really for animals that live in different environments and have different sensory ecology and different sensory capacities, do we all, do we use the same minimum standard for inclusion of what you can feel and what you can't feel? Maybe animals that echo-locate that sensory system is more important than their nociceptors, their pain sensing system. Maybe animals that live in low oxygen levels, well they don't have signals that tell them to be breathless because they live in low oxygen all the time so it's not a sensible signal to have. So I guess I'm just sort of throwing the question out to ask, how do we make, what is our decision-making process for saying if you want to be in the sentience club you have to be able to do this thing. Is it always to be able to sense pain, or should the metric be different depending on how you've evolved and what your sensory capabilities are.
Grant Shackell: Thanks, Ngaio. It makes me think about if our…
Ian Robertson: Can I add just a piece to that.
Grant Shackell: Yes.
Ian Robertson: From a legal perspective we've talked about how society's expectations are largely reflected in the law and the law can be a record of those changes in evolution. Just addressing some of those bits and pieces. I liked your term 'the club'. The animals that are currently in 'that club' are defined in the Animal Welfare Act at the moment. Thank you for nodding I looked to colleagues just to make sure I'm on the right page. There is a list of animals that are included and there are some that haven't made that cut yet but reference to pain and distress or element number two has been a defining criteria but in Section 10, I'm covering a couple of these bits and pieces so you know our our current rule book's not bad as comparisons go. Who gets in and who gets out section 10 of the Animal Welfare, New Zealand's Animal Welfare Act, currently says you know expectations rely on reference to good practice and 'scientific knowledge' so there's room to expand there and analogy from one species to another in some ways is very tempting but it's potentially treacherous, because a lot of our law revolves around the uses for which animals are put, and the closeness with a human caregiver. Take a cat for example, we have codes of welfare that recognise cats can be in different environments and situations. You can have the domesticated cat who's pampered, and you can the cat that's wild and feral or one that was released by it's owner when their owner was moving two years ago. Their states can be entirely different and consequently the responsibilities varies as well, but in Section 4 of the New Zealand's Animal Welfare Act where it references the principles of the five freedoms, and many of you be familiar with that I expect, what's so often overlooked is the very last line of that particular section, which after listing the responsibilities that mirror the five freedoms it basically says it all has to be interpreted in consideration of the species, the environment and, here's the bucket term, all the circumstances. So would vary according to what we heard from the other speakers today. Circumstances which those animals collectively have found, as well as the individual animal. So our law is a pretty good law and it has some, it has some touch points and it has some qualifiers that accommodate some of those questions and goes back to including who's in the club and who's not.
Grant Shackell: Okay so that actually sits to another question that we picked up that was actually directed to Mark and that was, and it follows on - possibly follows on - from what you've just said Ian or you might have a comment as well. So that now sentience is in the Act do we actually, does the next thing we need to think about is changing the definition of an animal? Mark.
Mark Fisher: Thanks, Grant. Perhaps we do but I don't think we need to or just yet anyway. It might be of interest to you that the World Organization for Animal Health or the OIE already considers bees animals, although as far as I know they haven't addressed animal welfare with respect to bees. But I guess what this question really makes me think about is Jane Goodall when she found out that chimpanzees were using tools, amongst other things, and she sent a telegram to Louis Leakey about it, and his reply was something like; I think we need to change the definition of a tool or change the definition of a human. And that's a little bit where I think we'll end up going maybe not in the next year but perhaps in the next 200 years. But we cannot live without having an impact on animals, whether you're a veterinarian, a farmer or a vegetarian or vegan, we cannot live certainly our modern life. We change animal's habitats left right and centre. We dump plastic in the ocean. We don't live without having an impact on the animals. But we also have these barriers where we rule ourselves as different from other animals, and these barriers are gradually being broken down.
Charles Darwin did some of them by showing that we were linked to animals for instance and sentience is just another one of those barriers that's being broken down. And I think maybe the future is that we need to accept that we're animals as much as the hunter-gatherers did 50,000 years ago. They considered themselves part of animal kingdom and that's the way that they worked out their barriers. They said thanks to the animal when they killed it. They said they were lucky if they caught it. They had all these rituals like taking the eyes out of the bear when they'd caught it, so the bear wouldn't see what was happening to it, after had been killed of course. So we were part of the animal kingdom and maybe that's where the future sort of lies, so rather than putting bees into the club maybe we have to think about ourselves and our role in the natural world.
Grant Shackell: Thanks Mark. So, odds smile around the room there. So we NAEAC as a committee, we work with Part 6 of the Act, and we work with that specific definition of animal and that definition of animal includes some embryonic stages, developmental stages so we take our definition very very widely in fact sometimes before the animal's even drawn a breath. Whereas in the US their definition of animals specifically excludes birds, rats and mice that are bred for and used for the purposes of research, testing and teaching. So we work in completely different environments from other places around the world and for me that poses a really interesting question. So our animal research community is quite large so we have people coming in from other jurisdictions. We send our own people out to be trained in other jurisdictions and so we've got people coming in to research, testing and teaching in New Zealand who've come from an environment where the controls over what they do is completely different. And we send out people to be trained in places where the controls are different and that creates some interesting dynamics. So Virginia, how do we use sentience to evaluate a research, testing and teaching proposal, when one species is being manipulated specifically for the benefit of another species?
Virginia Williams: Well we carry out a cost-benefit analysis, that's what we do. There are lots of ways in which animals are used to benefit humans and to benefit other animals. Testing of vaccines for instance, which is often quite a high-impact procedure. Shellfish toxin so that we don't all die of shellfish toxins. The pest issue looking at more humane ways to deal with pests. So every time that one of those proposals comes before an animal ethics committee, there has to be a cost-benefit analysis and sometimes it'll come down on one side and sometimes it'll come down on the other. I think mostly it probably comes down on one side which is probably that, if it's for humans it's going to happen. If it's for animal vaccines that's going to happen - to keep our animals healthy. The wildlife one is a difficult one because you're weighing up a being like a possum, that is probably more sentient then some of the animals that are gonna be saved if we can get rid of the possums. But there are different values that come to play there that are conservation values. How much do we value our wildlife? Our Kiwi or all those wonderful birds that we have that can creep around on the ground and can't fly anymore, versus the possum which came across the ditch when we didn't really want it to. It's a sentient being. A rat is a sentient being. A weasel is a sentient being. A stoat is a sentient being. It's a difficult area it really is. I'm happy that I'm not on the DOC Animal Ethics Committee, but that's an Animal Ethics Committee that has some very difficult decisions to make and and they and they do that, they do that tough job and we have to be grateful for that. So really it's yes you've got to weigh up one animal against another. There's no two ways about it.
Grant Shackell: Thanks, Virginia. Ngaio I noticed you writing there and I noticed Ian writing too, were you writing for yourself or were you writing for the microphone.
Ngaio Beauloleil: I'm a prolific note-taker so I'm always writing. No I was just writing about; I'm interested to know Virginia, just put you on the spot again, how is the level of sentience, if such a thing exists, factored into those cost-benefit analyses currently? So say for example I mean we've got two different scenarios where there's harm for one animal to benefit another animal, or we might have a scenario where we have harm to an animal to benefit say plants or an ecosystem or something that we consider to be non-sentient.
Virginia Williams: I don't I don't think we're weighing the sentience from one species to another. I think we're weighing the situation, and so although probably in many cases it's might be an animal that one might think of lower down the chain, I don't want to kind of put it like that, but a mouse vs a human kind of thing. It's not always the case. The wildlife issue is a case of point from that. I think it's more the situation that we're talking about rather than weighing up or trying to decide whether one animal is more sentient than another which I don't think we're deciding. All animals are sentient and so that's a kind of level playing field from that point of view.
Grant Shacekll: Thank you very much. Now I noticed that we've starting to get people to leave so we're starting to infringe on travel commitments and all of those sorts of things. As I say, we didn't take everybody's questions and we're still going to finish up having more questions up here than we're going to get time to ask for. So what I think, to give you time to maybe mingle just before you go and help your networking, discuss something or finish a discussion that you were having before you were interrupted. I've got one last question which probably, more than anything, sums up the day in some ways and you may want to, feel free this is not directed at any individual it's directed at the table, so an answer from the table will be good. You may just wish to sit and nod your head sagely but the question is, is it our responsibility to create positive states for animals or do we provide conditions and adopt practices that allow animals to create their own positive state?
Nick de Graaf: Thanks I'd like to start with an answer there or a comment I guess. I think what we're finding in our work is that the idea of establishing if the animals having positive experiences or not is a snapshot in time. So we assess the animal based on the understanding and evidence in front of us. It's having some positive experiences we haven't identified negative ones in an ideal scenario. The next natural question is, will this be the same tomorrow? Next year? What's going to happen if it breaks its leg a month from now, because there's a trip hazard in the enclosure? Now right now we can't say the animal's welfare state is negative because it might have an injury down the road. So there's a relationship that we're recognising and that is, animals experiences, or its welfare, tells us one thing but it's the care and practices that we provide to the animal that tells us another and you need each to answer the other side or validate the other side. So for example, if we just assess practices well we take good care of the animal - that's not telling me whether the animal is having positive and negative experiences. We need to see what the animal is telling us too to confirm that the practices are appropriate. Then we need to look at it the other way too. When we look at the animal's experiences and like I said well it's positive today but how do we know if it's going to be positive tomorrow? We need to understand what the likelihood of its welfare is going to be in the future, and we can only really judge that by assessing the practices and the methods of care that is to be applied to the animal down the road and that gives us at least some confidence of where it's going to go.
Grant Shackell: Anybody else like to comment?
Ian Robertson: Thanks for those comments. I think that's a poignant question. You're referencing the animals, I know today we've spoke a lot about the animals, I think it's worth recognising that there's a constant interaction between the animals, people and what we call our shared planet. Ofttimes what's good for, offtimes, not always, but oftentimes, what's good for one benefits the other but in that mix of considerations there are going to be conflicts of interest. Even in this room there are there conflicts and different perspectives on how we see definition. How that definition might be applied? What impact it may have on our respective area of involvement that intersects with animals? However, I really liked your question there, which I think is relevant to all of us, you said, will this be the same next year? You know we'll still be having the same conversation because not much has shifted. At the moment there, as we said, there are groups, ubiquitous reference groups, exceeding those basic minimums, but there's no compellability. So the starting point is giving something as the table to the right was talking about earlier. Getting that definition, getting that that process and bits and pieces in place, because we will continue, I liked your presentation Nick, well all of them, but Nick's reference in this point, that we'll continue trying to alleviate or minimise an animal's pain or distress, but until we're compelled, or be helpful to compel and require, positive states to be incorporated into that list of responsibilities as well. And then going back to Nick's question out of that we'll learn, because we need to keep learning, but I think as lawyers, scientists, policymakers and every other individual and profession that's represented here, with the compellability regarding positive welfare will be forced to not only learn more but also start asking different questions. And that will make the difference to the animals, people and planet equation. Thank you.
Ngaio Beausoleil: I just want to make one other point which is probably what other people have said in different ways, which is, just like us individual animals have different preferences and different things make individual animals happy or give them positive experiences and we don't necessarily know what those are for individuals. So you know we can provide something for a range of different animals and some of them will take up the opportunity and find it pleasurable and others won't for whatever reason. So I think one of the things that's really valuable that we can do, and probably what our obligation is, is to provide a range of choices for animals to make and that's in all of the different domains so micro climates, different environments for them to choose between - so that they can moderate their own behaviour and provide themselves with a positive opportunity positive experiences. If we just provide something that we think is one size fits all, then invariably some of the animals in that group will not have positive experiences. So choice is really important.
Grant Shackell: Okay all hands are remaining firmly on the table now so I think, did you want to say something Jim?
Jim Webster: I agree with that, I think we we do have to provide a range of things for different animal personalities to be expressed and we can't give experiences per se, but we can understand what things are going to increase the likelihood that animals are going to have positive experiences and look at providing those. And I don't think we need to be compelled to do that either because some of those are very very simple to do it can be done cheaply and easily. So yeah I think we can make good progress in providing positive situations for positive experiences for animals.
Grant Shackell: Thanks Jim. So what I'm going to do now is close this off. There will be a taxi parked outside at 4:30 and it's now 4:20. I'd like you all please. The 2 committees are going away here with a lot of paper and a lot to digest. When we first spoke to the Minister about this day, what we were going to do, he looked at us he said what do you want to do he said, so it's an information gathering exercise? And yes it's been an information gathering exercise and that information has come from all of you, it's coming to us and now we've got to decide what we might do with it. I'd like you all please to thank the speakers who've given up their time to come here today and spoken to you. And while you're doing that just have a wee brief think in your own head that you're thanking yourself as well for the input that you've made.
Gwyneth Verkerk: So it falls to me just to bring the day to a close and say farewell to everyone and Grant has thanked the speakers but I would like to again thank them for the great contribution they've made and we need to get Jess from Bristol a thank you as well we'll do that. We have a huge amount of information now to think about and digest. Within the committee's, both of us will take these thoughts and ideas back to our committees, and certainly with the NAWAC committee we have one of our themes in our work programme is looking at how we understand the concept of sentience and the good life, and how that might be brought through in the codes and regulations that we're responsible for. So Annie described to you before how this information will be made available. I'd like to think that as you go away and when you wake up at midnight tonight and think, oh I should have said that, capture it and make sure that you add it because, this is not a task that committees can just do on their own.
As Grant said we're just a bunch of people that for some reason got nominated to this job and really it's our communities that give us the strength to work things through, make decisions and make changes. And so we have a lot of rich information, we will be thinking about this, we'll be digesting this and you will no doubt hear further from us. I'd just like again to thank the MPI team which has been great support for us. Jen, who we've exposed to a whole lot of negative emotions in the last little while, and we'll have to make sure she gets some positive stuff and Kate, Nicki, Marie, Tam all of you out there, I've forgotten someone, and but yeah thank you very much for your support and we look forward to working on this further. This is something that is probably just yet another step in David Bayvel's journey, which is all our journeys too. So we'd like to wish you all farewell and safe travel home and we look forward to re-engaging with you all at another time. Thank you.
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