Jackdaw Jacky – Thoughts about Sentience

Jacky is a western jackdaw (Coloeus monedula), also known as Eurasian jackdaw, European jackdaw, or simply jackdaw, and is a passerine bird belonging to the crow family. She is a seven year old imprinted bird, whose care we have taken over about one year ago. Jacky is unfortunately not releasable, as she has spent her whole life with humans. Jacky has been rescued as a fledgling by a well meaning person, who raised and unintentionally imprinted her. It did not take long for Jacky to conquer our hearts. Jacky lives with us, as she is not comfortable with other residential jackdaws, and is sadly not being tolerated by her own kind. Experiencing non-human animals like Jacky can be an eye opener for people, who never had this kind of close relationship with non-human animals like her. And as people, who have already opened their minds and hearts towards the plight of human as well as non-human animals, we are still again and again amazed by what we can learn from our non-human fellows. This insight makes it even more difficult to comprehend and live with the widely accepted normality and legality of discrimination and persecution of human and non-human animals.

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Rook Velvet – An Obituary

“Smooth like velvet” sprang into my mind when thinking of a name for our latest patient – a rook baby. It was May 2014. The lady who had kindly picked up Velvet underneath a rookery, situated in a massive cedar tree, cared for him at her home until she got overwhelmed by the task. When we were asked to take over, we noticed a nasty compound fracture of his left leg – the bone had pierced through the tender skin. It was a surprise Velvet had survived such a deep fall anyway, landing next to one of the busiest roads on the island. But the fractured leg needed to be treated, although we knew it would be too late to even hope for full function of the limb.

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Rook Laniakea – An Obituary

Laniakea came to us as an adult rook in Spring 2017. We did not know for sure how old she was when she arrived. However, it was very obvious to us that Laniakea was already an experienced and mature rook. When we rescued her, it became immediatly apparent that she would never be releasable. This thought was deeply troubling, in particular as it was very likely that Laniakea had a partner, who was waiting for her. Her arrival came with a big shock too, as she had suffered horrendous injuries to her leg, most likely caused by a spring trap. Laniakea had to undergo surgery, but recovered very well from her leg amputation.

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Treating Animals With The Respect They Deserve

Carrion crow Merilyn

Being sentient means to have the capacity to have positive and negative experiences, such as feeling pain and pleasure. This applies at the very least to all animals with centralised nervous systems. Sentient beings have their very own unique personalities. We should refer to them as “he/she”, “them/they” or by species. The words “it” or “thing” should not be used to refer to an animal, and “who” is used rather than “that”. If you do not know the gender, then choose one: “he” or “she”. Even if your gender choice is wrong, it is more respectful than “it”. This is an important way of demonstrating the respect we ask others to afford all animals.

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Why Should We Help Non-Human Animals?

Short-eared owl Harriet

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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