Farm Sanctuary in New York is investigating the inner lives of cows, pigs, and chickens, but only if they volunteer to do so. An in-house research team at Farm Sanctuary is working to answer the question of whether animals enjoy learning. Farm Sanctuary has spent over 35 years trying to end animal agriculture. While chickens are often animals thought not to be very smart, they hope that their investigation will show just how smart and sentient these animals are.

Source: Farm Sanctuary/YouTube

Previous research has found that chickens can anticipate the future, goats can solicit help from humans, and pigs can pick up on another’s emotions. Still, we know far less about these animals than we do about primates or dogs.

What makes this study different is that Farm Sanctuary is conducting it following its own strict ethical standards. This means that the animals have the right to choose whether or not to participate in the studies. They want to show that the animals are more than just “pieces of meat.” They have emotions and personalities and are sentient beings.

Farm Sanctuary says that allowing the animals to be voluntary participants is not only ethical, but they also believe it leads to better science. When animals are forced into settings and studies, they may react out of stress or fear, which can affect the results of the study.

So far, they have tested eight chickens, and although it is too soon to draw conclusions, they are looking forward to showing studies can be just as impactful if you let the animals volunteer.

Read more about animal testing in One Green Planet, including why it makes no sense. Celebrities like James Cromwell and Paul McCartney have spoken out against animal testing.

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