World Animal Protection applauds NZ’S recognition of sentience
World Animal Protection has applauded the New Zealand Government for including the recognition of sentience, that animals can feel pain and distress, in the Animal Welfare Strategy which was released today.
World Animal Protection New Zealand’s Country Director, Bridget Vercoe, says the scientific understanding of animal sentience is based on decades of research and evidence from neuroscience and cognitive ethology.
Animal sentience refers to the fact that animals can feel pain and suffer, but also experience positive emotions such as joy and pleasure. Studies have found many animals to be capable of complex emotions which are often thought to be unique to humans, such as grief, empathy and jealousy. With the sentience of animals being scientifically proven, this has become an important foundation for the development of animal protection policy around the world.
“New Zealand has always prided itself on being a global leader in animal welfare. This is a good step in ensuring the country’s good reputation is maintained,” says Ms Vercoe.
“We urge the Government to go one step further and recognise animal sentience in the updated Animal Welfare Act which will be introduced shortly. The inclusion of sentience language in the Animal Welfare Strategy and the Animal Welfare Act will ensure New Zealand remains at the forefront of animal protection policy and legislation globally”.
Other countries, such as Tanzania, Ukraine and Hungary, have already clearly acknowledged sentience in their legislation.
More than 60 countries, including New Zealand, have given their in principle support for the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare which once adopted by the United Nations, will recognise animal sentience and that animal welfare as an issue of global importance.