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Speciesism

January 10, 2021 - Current Affairs

Animals Don’t Need Words to Demand Respect

Animals Don’t Need Words to Demand Respect
Pig enjoying a walk on the beach© Photabulous!

More than six million followers across social media have watched Bunny, a sheepadoodle participating in a study run by the Comparative Cognition Lab at the University of California San Diego, push buttons on a soundboard. On one occasion, Bunny seems to look at herself in a mirror and press buttons that say “who this.” On another, she appears to press a series of “ouch” and “paw” buttons to call attention to an irritating thorn she needs removed.

Shayla Love, writing for Vice magazine’s Motherboard, is one of the internet multitudes wondering whether Bunny is attempting to convey coherent, human-like thoughts. In a considerate article, Love surveys the evidence and suggests that it’s at least possible some dogs can be taught “that the sound[s] and word[s] ‘walk’ symbolically represents an action.” In other words, language.

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