The United Kingdom has officially recognized octopuses, squid, lobsters, and crabs as sentient beings. This is because science has shown that these animals are intelligent.
“It is now clear from the science that decapods and cephalopods can feel pain, so it is only fair that they are included in this important law,” UK Animal Welfare Minister Lord Zac Goldsmith said in a statement.
The Animal Welfare Sentience Bill was changed after the London School of Economics and Political Science looked at more than 300 scientific studies.
In other European countries like Norway, Sweden, and Austria, animal welfare laws protect cephalopods (like squid and octopuses) and decapods (like crabs and lobsters).
“The ability to feel things like pain, pleasure, hunger, thirst, warmth, joy, comfort, and excitement is called “sentience.”
Researchers looked at eight signs of sentience, such as the ability to learn, the presence of pain receptors and how they connect to the brain, the response to anesthetics, and behaviors that showed protection after an injury.
“There’s no doubt that crustaceans and cephalopods see the world very differently than we do. “What matters, though, is whether that experience includes the conscious experience of pleasure and pain,” the report says.
“We think there is enough proof to show that these animals do feel happiness and sadness.”
In the past, there was clear evidence that cephalopods are smart. For example, cuttlefish can pass tests of intelligence that were originally made for kids.
Octopuses are also very smart. They have been shown to recognize specific people, solve puzzles, and even get out of tight spots. Just like us, they can also feel emotional pain and get bored and angry. Maybe they can even dream.
Crabs can find their way through mazes and can tell the difference between a fake seagull and a real one.
The report says that “proportionate steps should be taken to regulate practices that raise reasonable and widespread concerns about animal welfare.”