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Feeling it
  1. Suzanne Jarvis

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This week two animal topics have dominated my personal social media channels: the rejection by MPs of the amendment – New Clause 30 – to the EU Withdrawal Bill recognising animal sentience, and the octopus evading capture by a pyjama shark by suffocating it and then hiding in an ‘armour’ of shells on the BBC’s Blue Planet II.

In effecting its escape the octopus appeared to be acting on more than instinct; thinking of a way out of its dangerous situation. But was it feeling anything?

It can be easy to anthropomorphise, but the evidence shows that animals do feel, for example, pain, alarm and hunger, and also more positive feelings that we would call happiness and contentment.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘sentient’ as able to …

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