Though much of big science has centered on breakthroughs in biotechnology, nanotechnology and more esoteric questions like the age of our universe, a quieter story has been unfolding behind the scenes in laboratories around the world — one whose effect on human perception and our understanding of life is likely to be profound.
What these researchers are finding is that many of our fellow creatures are more like us than we had ever imagined. They feel pain, suffer and experience stress, affection, excitement and even love — and these findings are changing how we view animals.
Strangely enough, some of the research sponsors are fast food purveyors, such as McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC. Pressured by animal rights activists and by growing public support for the humane treatment of animals, these companies have financed research into, among other things, the emotional, mental and behavioral states of our fellow creatures.
Studies on pigs’ social behavior funded by McDonald’s at Purdue University, for example, have found that they crave affection and are easily depressed if isolated or denied playtime with each other. The lack of mental and physical stimuli can result in deterioration of health….