Eyes – Windows to the Soul

Carrion crow Harold

It has been said that the eyes are windows to the soul. Research has shown that the apertures of our eyes offer a glimpse into the mind. No doubt that this applies to human and non-human animals. The pupil response to cognitive and emotional events occurs on an even smaller scale than the light reflex, but with the right tools this response is measurable.

When we give a human or non-human being moral consideration, then this simply means that we take into account how they will be affected by our actions, omissions, attitudes and decisions. Sentient individuals, regardless of their species, have morally relevant interests in being alive and in not being harmed, and this does not vary according to the fact whether a species is rare or common.

When I look into the eyes of an animal, I do not see an animal.
I see a living being. I see a friend. I feel a soul.

Anthony Douglas Williams
Carrion crow Harold
Carrion Crow Harold

Naughty Hooded Crow

Mute swan

This short videoclip shows a fascinating encounter between a rather naughty and very persistent hooded crow and a juvenile mute swan. Neither the victim nor a nearby adult bird, presumably a parent of the young swan, seem to be too much annoyed by the antics of the crow, who repeatedly pulls the tail or tries to get hold of some wing feathers.

Rook Isla

Rook Isla

Isla joined us recently at nestling age after being rescued by well-meaning but inexperienced people. We do not know a lot about Isla’s story other than that she has been found as a presumed orphan. We understand that the carer struggled increasingly to raise Isla. After about two weeks they gave up and brought Isla eventually to a local bird rescue, who recognised immediately that Isla was in great trouble. Subsequently, we have been asked to take over Isla’s longterm care and rehabilitation, which we did.

Juvenile Rook Isla
Rook Isla after her first bath

Coexistence of Multiple Health Conditions

After a thorough assessment we found that Isla showed signs of a septicaemia with undulating temperatures. She also demonstrated extensive soft tissue swellings involving hock, ankle and foot joints. Interestingly, Isla’s wing joints were completely preserved. Both very swollen hock joints showed already several small pressure sores. Additionally, obscured by the marked joint swelling, we also noticed an unusual deformity of Isla’s right-sided hock joint and foot, which rather looked like a traumatic injury than a congenital deformity or simple involvement by the coexisting inflammatory joint disease. It was difficult to ascertain the exact pathology due to the severity of joint and soft tissue swelling. However, careful physical examination showed a lack of sensation and power in the injured foot, which made it likely that a trauma has caused at least part of the hock joint swelling, having also lead to a nerve injury. Also, it seemed very likely that Isla has suffered a spinal contusion, as she showed a slight weakness in both legs, whilst both hip joints remained unaffected by joint infection and lack of power. Not unexpected in Isla’s case, as her immune system was clearly overwhelmed, we found her suffering of an external and internal parasite infestation.

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Why Should We Help Non-Human Animals? (Republished)

Short-eared owl Harriet
Editor’s note: This post has originally been posted on 12th September 2018, and has now been updated and republished.

Before we look at possible answers, we should try to establish an ethical baseline we all can agree on and work with. Most but not all people will accept that it is wrong to intentionally inflict harm onto others with the exception of acting in self defence. Intentionally harming other people is morally seen not acceptable. Violence is generally not regarded as normal behaviour, as it obviously can cause harm. It seems natural to most of us to help others, who have been harmed or are about to be harmed. But what drives us to help? And where does empathy and compassion come from?

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