If any mammal appears to be free of emotions, apart perhaps from cynicism, it would be the goat.


Well, that's one of the lines in this opinion piece about what science says about animal sentience.

The article also states:

  • Today most of us would probably also say that animals are able to feel emotion, form attachments and have distinct personalities. Yet for many decades the idea of animals feeling emotions or having personalities was dismissed by behavioural scientists. This strange view that arose from the 17th-century philosopher RenĂ© Descartes’ alleged assertion that animals are without feelings, physical or emotional. Recent work has debunked this idea
  • The ability of a horse to be fairly calm in the face of a novel situation, and to learn quickly that a new object or situation is not threatening, is crucial when riding. So the researchers concentrated on these aspects of horse emotion. They found that one of the most important influences on how emotional horses are is the way that they are housed. 
  • Another vexed question, in the early part of the 20th century at least, was whether or not animals have personalities. It is now generally accepted that they do, and that those personalities are capable of as much variation as human personalities. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this area of study is that personality is discernible even in fish, which are often seen as being singularly lacking in emotional range. 
  • Unless animal sentience continues to be recognised in law, it will be even more difficult to deal with people who compromise animal welfare.