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Making Animals Real: Helping People Understand Animal Sentience
Did you know that rats practise random acts of kindness, elephants have been known to weep with sorrow, chickens can recognize over 100 other chickens, honeybees are capable of pessimism, and that animals from tortoises to hippos to king crabs will risk their lives to save others?
Anyone who’s lived with a cat or dog will testify to what complex, intelligent, and loving individuals they are, yet when it comes to the animals that society more egregiously exploits, they’re often dismissed as merely objects for human use.
Well, we have heavy-hitting biology, neuroscience, and veterinary experts in the field of animal sentinece and cognition joining us for this up-coming AJA panel to share what facts and anecdotes they’ve found to most effectively show how deeply animals think, feel, bond, and fight to live.
They’ll teach us some of the most impactful things that we, as animal advocates, can communicate in our conversations, campaigns, and social media posts to help people wake up to the rich inner lives of non-human animals.
* You’re also welcome to stay after the panel and participate in discussion/workshopping breakout groups from 8:30-9pm on Zoom.
ABOUT THE PANELISTS:
Marc Bekoff is professor emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He has published 31 books, won many awards for his research on animal behavior, animal emotions (cognitive ethology), compassionate conservation, and animal protection, has worked closely with Jane Goodall, and is a former Guggenheim Fellow. He also works closely with inmates at the Boulder County Jail. Marc’s latest books are The Animals’ Agenda: Freedom, Compassion, and Coexistence in the Human Age (with Jessica Pierce), Canine Confidential: Why Dogs Do What They Do, and Unleashing Your Dog: A Field Guide to Giving Your Canine Companion the Best Life Possible (with Jessica Pierce) and he also publishes regularly for Psychology Today. Marc and Jessica’s most recent book A Dog’s World: Imagining the Lives of Dogs in a World Without Humans was published by Princeton University Press in October 2021. In 1986 Marc won the Master’s age-graded Tour de France. His homepage is marcbekoff.com.
Lori Marino, PhD is a neuroscientist and expert in animal behavior, intelligence, and self-awareness who was on the faculty of Emory University for twenty years. She is the founder and President of the Whale Sanctuary Project and Executive Director of The Kimmela Center for Scholarship-based Animal Advocacy. Lori’s scientific work focuses on the evolution of the brain and intelligence in dolphins and whales (as well as primates and farmed animals), and on the effects of captivity on wildlife. She has published over 140 peer-reviewed scientific papers, book chapters, and magazine articles. In 2001 she co-authored a groundbreaking study demonstrating the first conclusive evidence for mirror self-recognition in dolphins. Lori also works at the intersection of science and animal law and policy, having been an expert witness and advisor for several legal efforts for animal rights and protection, including the Nonhuman Rights Project and the Canadian Senate Bill S203, a bill that passed in 2019 banning the keeping and breeding of dolphins and whales for entertainment in Canada. Lori has appeared in several films and television programs, including the 2013 documentary Blackfish, about orca captivity, Long Gone Wild, the 2019 documentary on marine mammal captivity, and the 2021 film Seaspiracy.
Jonathan Balcombe is a biologist with a PhD in ethology, the study of animal behavior. His books include Pleasurable Kingdom, Second Nature, The Exultant Ark, and What a Fish Knows—a New York Times best-seller now available in sixteen languages. His latest book for grown-ups, Super Fly, won the 2021 National Outdoor Book Award for natural history literature. A children’s story book, Jake and Ava: A Boy and a Fish, was published November 2021 by The Gryphon Press. Before focusing on writing books, he worked for several animal protection organizations, a medical technology firm, and as a professional editor. He lives in southern Ontario where in his spare time he enjoys biking, baking, birding, Bach, and trying to understand the neighborhood squirrels.
Elena Contreras, DVM, MS, PhD, is a veterinarian with interests in chronic stress and animal welfare, veterinary ethics, animal behavior, feline stress, and fear free practices. She is a faculty member at Long Island University College of Veterinary Medicine where she teaches Animal Welfare and Behavior. She also assists in the (remote) teaching of Veterinary Ethics to first-and-second year veterinary students at Colorado State University (CSU) College of Veterinary Medicine. Elena is currently an advisor for Phoenix Zones Initiative, and she is also on the Animal Welfare Committee of the New York State Veterinary Medical Association. She is pursuing diplomate status in the American College of Animal Welfare.
Prior to veterinary school, Elena earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in art photography. She then switched gears and worked for a large international conservation organization and subsequently obtained a Master of Science degree in ecology from CSU where she studied the effects of rural development on grassland bird populations. She later made a career change into veterinary medicine and received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree in 2013 from Ross University, which she attended via a full tuition diversity-related scholarship. After vet school, Elena returned to CSU, studied shelter medicine, and received her PhD in Veterinary Clinical Sciences in 2019, with a dissertation on feline infectious diseases. Elena has authored and co-authored numerous publications in the veterinary and other fields. One of her favorites is a recently published article in the Journal of Animal Ethics, about the convenient disregard of the lab rat, which she co-authored with one of her mentors, the dearly departed Dr. Bernie Rollin.
(MODERATOR) Kimberly Carroll is a coach for changemakers (www.kimberlycarroll.com), a campaigns strategist with Animal Justice and director of the Animal Justice Academy, as well as a director with the Toronto Vegetarian Food Bank.
Kimberly brings her background as a television host and producer, as well as her diplomatic and strategic skills as a coach to animal advocacy. Besides her current roles, she co-created the original “Why love one but eat the other?” transit ad campaign in Canada and was one of the founders of Mercy For Animals Canada — helping bring the first undercover farmed animal investigations to television.
As a coach, Kimberly helps activists, social entrepreneurs, and mission-driven leaders who want to make a bigger difference in the world with the inner shifts, high-performance habits, and strategies to take their important work to the next level. She’s helped empower thousands of animal advocates and counselled those in high-stress activist positions like undercover investigators.
Kimberly also endeavours to use her privilege and platform also for environmental activism, democratic reform, and to amplify Indigenous voices and those of other marginalized people.