(ANIMAL WELFARE/ANIMAL SCIENCE) Scottish scientist Dr. Ian Duncan claims he is actually able to talk to animals by using a “strictly scientific method” which he plans to reveal in a Washington conference on animal welfare and sentience in the coming week.
Dr. Duncan, whose work led to changes in in the regulations of battery farms for pigs and hens, believes by being able to communicate with animals about their care, we may be able to improve their lives. Read on to learn more about this modern-day Dr. Dolittle. — Global Animal
The Daily Mail, Sarah Griffiths
The tales of Dr Dolittle have captured imaginations since the books were written nearly 100 years ago.
And now one Scottish scientists claims he can do just that using a ‘strictly scientific method’.
After years of research, Dr Ian Duncan will reveal his methods of communicating with pets and livestock at a conference next week.
He started his work wanting to ask animals questions to check that they were happy with their living conditions and that they were being well cared for.
Dr Duncan, Emeritus Chair in animal welfare at the University of Guelph, Canada, said his methods of communicating with creatures great and small are based on science, although he has acknowledged similarities to the character of Dr Dolittle, The Belfast Telegraph reported.
‘We are devising ways of “talking” to animals and putting questions to them about their welfare and happiness,’ he told The Sunday Times.
‘Each species has to be treated differently but the common factor is to devise tests where the animals are offered a choice.
‘If they make the same choice repeatedly…it shows what they want from us.’
The scientist will reveal his methods at a conference about animal welfare and sentience taking place in Washington next week, after spending years working with a number of pets and livestock species.
Dr Duncan is interested in fundamental questions concerning the nature of sentience – the ability of animals to feel sensations – and its relationship to welfare.
He is also committed to finding solutions to farm animal welfare problems through more applied research.
His work in the 1980s and 1990s led to changes in the regulation of battery farms for hens and pigs.
He has also spoken out against the religious slaughter of animals, used to produce kosher and halal meat as he believes livestock animals, from farmed fish to sheep, are smarter than people give them credit for.
Dr Duncan said:
‘It used to be thought that animals were ‘dumb’, driven by programmed instincts and responses, but now it is clear they live a much richer life than we ever realized and can remember the past and think about the future.
‘We can use that knowledge to ask questions about their care and then improve it.’