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Krista Hiddema – Intelligence of farmed animals and the how-to’s of living a compassionate lifestyle


Sunday September 10, 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm | Miss Lou's Room | Workshop

Did you know that cows live within complex social hierarchies, possess excellent spatial learning abilities, and love music? Or that just like humans, chickens are able to count and identify numbers from a very young age? They also communicate with more than 24 vocalizations, each with a different meaning. Chickens have a knack for remembering people, places, and things, even after months apart! Pigs are actually considered the fifth-most intelligent animal in the world—even more intelligent than dogs—and are capable of playing video games with more focus and success than chimps! Fish abilities include learning from each other, recognizing other fish they’ve spent time with, knowing their place within fish social hierarchies, and remembering complex spatial maps of their surroundings. Goats quickly learn how to perform complicated tasks and can recall how to perform them for at least 10 months, which may explain their remarkable ability to adapt to harsh environments.

Thanks to behavioural studies and new techniques in brain imaging, recognition of animal sentience is growing in the scientific community. These studies continue to demonstrate that animals feel pain just like humans and deserve to be free from harm.

Of course, all animals have the capacity to suffer, and intelligence shouldn’t be a measure of an animal’s right to live free of unnecessary cruelty.

Krista Hiddema, vice president of Mercy For Animals in Canada, explores the rich and deep emotional lives of farmed animals and helps us learn what we can do to live a compassionate and cruelty-free life.