The United Kingdom has now formally recognized octopuses, squid, lobsters, and crabs as sentient creatures, catching up to well-established science on these intelligent species.
“It is only right that decapods and cephalopods be protected by this essential piece of legislation since science has now proven that they can feel pain,” UK Animal Welfare Minister Lord Zac Goldsmith said in a statement.
The London School of Economics and Political Science conducted a study of over 300 scientific papers in order to update the Animal Welfare Sentience Bill.
Other European nations, such as Norway, Sweden, and Austria, have animal welfare law that protects cephalopods (such as squid and octopuses) and decapods (such as crabs and lobsters).
“Sentience is the capacity to have feelings, such as feelings of pain, pleasure, hunger, thirst, warmth, joy, comfort, and excitement,”
In their report, the researchers explain their findings.
Researchers looked at eight different aspects of sentience, including learning capacity, the existence of pain receptors and their connections to the brain, anesthetic response, and injury-protective actions.
“Crustaceans and cephalopods, without a doubt, have quite different perspectives on the world than we do. “What counts is whether or not that experience includes conscious pleasure and pain,” the paper says.
“We feel the data is adequate to demonstrate that these animals experience pleasure and pain,” says the researcher.
The intelligence of cephalopods has already been established. Cuttlefish, for example, may pass cognitive exams designed for human children.
Octopuses are also extremely clever creatures, having been shown to recognize particular individuals, solve riddles, and even escape.
They, like humans, may experience emotional discomfort and get bored and dissatisfied. They could even have the ability to dream.
Crabs can find their way through mazes and identify the difference between a genuine and a phony seagull.
“Proportionate efforts to restrict behaviors that are a cause of legitimate and widespread animal welfare concerns,” the study urges.
This includes prohibiting declawing of decapods and humanely murdering them — no more horrific live lobster boilings.
“The change will also assist to resolve a key inconsistency: octopuses and other cephalopods have long been protected in research but have never been protected outside of science,” argues cognitive science philosopher Jonathan Birch.