The Ethics of Chicken & the Power of the Consumer

Photo courtesy of woodleywonderworks via Flickr

Photo courtesy of woodleywonderworks via Flickr


Scientific American magazine (in the February 2014 issue, the print version) published an article on recent scientific studies revealing the surprisingly sophisticated level of the intelligence of chickens. (You can find the online version of the article here, but you can only access an excerpt of it unless you have an account with the website.) As the authors detail the experiments and their results, they make two points: first, that chickens are vastly more intelligent than we thought; second, how these findings can, and should, affect our feelings about the factory farm conditions in which the average chicken is placed before heading to market. They also talk about how this can, and should, influence our purchasing decisions when buying chicken at the grocers.

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Primate Socialism

Tanya’s Thoughts: Click on the above link to see video. This is a video from the blog “Whisky And Tea” that shows two monkeys being rewarded with food for doing a task for a researcher. The monkeys both know each other. At one point, they are placed in separate cages that are clear so that each monkey can see what the other is doing and what reward each is getting.

Each time a monkey gives a small rock to the researcher from its cage, it is given a cucumber as a reward. Both receive the same reward at first, but the researcher then switches things up by giving one monkey grapes, while still giving cucumbers to the other. Comedy ensues, as well as an interesting lesson in animal intelligence and the innate need for fairness.

This species of monkey, called Capuchins, like grapes more than cucumbers. So when the cucumber-rewarded monkey sees that his friend is getting grapes for the same task, he gets a temper tantrum. He throws the pieces of cucumber back at the researcher! He then bangs his little hands on the table where the cage is set and shakes the doors of the cage!

What this says to me is that monkeys are a lot more intelligent than we think, and that there may be an innate need for fairness and justice in many animals other than ourselves. Both very thought-provoking concepts.

Whisky and Tea

Because it’s the end of term:

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