Animal Cognitive Achievements: 5 Abilities of Other Species

Rational and conscious action – for a long time this was attributed only to humans. However, more and more results from cognitive research indicate that this ability can certainly be found in animals. Many animals make decisions, weigh the consequences and automatically find solutions to new challenges. [1]

Cognitive Research: 5 Examples of Why We Need to Radically Change the Way We Treat Animals

Cognitive research deals with the cognitive abilities of living organisms, that is, the processing of information in the context of perception, thinking and decision-making processes. Or to put it simply: Cognitive research studies areas such as memory, consciousness, learning, or emotions.

Animals have amazing abilities

  1. Sheep, for example, have a highly developed ability to memorize and recognize faces – comparable to the facial recognition capabilities of humans or monkeys. [2]
  2. A recent study found that cockatoos use primate-like abilities when using tools. As part of the study, the animals solved a spatially complex task using a set of tools and plunged a ball into a small hole, just like playing golf. [3] The cockatoo also opened complex secure locks without any problems. [4]
  3. Pigs have complex behaviors and abstract skills. This was demonstrated in a study in which animals solved tasks on a screen using a joystick. [5]
  4. Horses can think abstractly and have very good memories. Among other things, they see people’s facial expressions and can interpret them correctly. [6]
  5. Corvids are in no way inferior to the great apes in terms of their cognitive abilities: they build tools from individual parts and hide these tools for later use. Animals can put themselves in the shoes of their animal companions and infer what they see from their field of view – a cognitively complex feat that helps create secret hiding places for food. [7]

This list can go on for a long time. We humans admire such findings, because they show that other species can also act rationally and consciously.

But what do we take away from it, and what does this mean for our dealings with animals? Unfortunately not so much: in our society, millions of sympathetic creatures like pigs are allowed to be imprisoned, fattened and killed. Cow babies are snatched from their mothers and sent over long distances, sometimes thousands of kilometres, to an uncertain and often cruel future.

Horses are sometimes kept in isolation for their entire lives and are exploited regardless of their needs for recreational activities or sporting ambitions. Birds are uprooted from their natural habitat and forced to spend their lives in cages, often without friends.

Species are to blame for animal exploitation

All of these are consequences of systematic discrimination against other animals by humans. This type of oppression is called species and means that we discriminate against other living beings only because of their belonging to the species, that is, we treat them as disadvantaged. Humans exploit animals in a variety of ways for their own purposes, whether for consumption, clothing, entertainment, or some other perceived benefit.

Another consequence of the qualitative tendency is that humans divide animals into so-called “farm animals”, “pets” or “lab animals” depending on their use for them. Some are allowed to sleep in our bed and spoil the rest of their lives, others are tortured and killed. However, a quick look at the research is enough to understand that the way we treat other animals is just plain wrong and unethical. The above examples from the cognitive world of animals clearly show that we have to fundamentally change the way we treat animals.

And no matter how “intelligent” the creature is: in fact, there is only one reason not to discriminate against animals. This is why animals, like us, feel pain and fear. We are all animals!

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  • sources

    [1] Frankfurter Rundschau (2021): Animals behaving rationally: the parrot, the nut and the hook, https://www.fr.de/kultur/gesellschaft/tiere-handeln-rational-der-kakadu-die-nuss-und-der-haken-91169087 .html (Accessed February 9, 2022)

    [2] Silze, Uwe (2017): Sheep Can Remember Faces, https://www.mdr.de/wissen/mensch-alltag/schafforschung-und-promis-100.html (Accessed 9 February 2022)

    [3] Podbregar, Nadja (2022): Kakadus als Golfspieler, https://www.scinexx.de/news/biowissen/kakadus-als-golfspieler/ (Accessed 9 February 2022)

    [4] scinexx Cognitive Journal (2013): Cockatoos Safe and Smart Crackers, https://www.scinexx.de/news/biowissen/kakadus-sind-gewiefte-tresor-knacker/ (Accessed 9 February 2022)

    [5] Vieweg, Martin (2021): Sau schlau: Schweine am Joystick, https://www.wissenschaft.de/erde-umwelt/sau-schlau-schweine-am-joystick/ (Accessed 9 February 2022)

    [6] t-online (2021): Researchers discover amazing abilities of horses, https://www.t-online.de/leben/familie/id_90824682/pferde-forscher-discoveren-erstaunliche-faehständige-der-tiere-.html (accessed it on 09.02.2022

    [7] Thomas Krummenacker (2020): Little ravens are as smart as monkeys, https://www.sueddeutsche.de/wissen/voegel-intelligenz-instrumente-raben-1.5151354 (Accessed 9 February 2022)

Note: PETA consistently rejects animal testing. However, the above studies have already been conducted and provide scientific evidence on the cognitive abilities of animals. It’s important to make the results public – because they show how awesome animals are and that pigs, for example, shouldn’t end up on our plates.

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