Showing posts from April, 2012


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Do animals need to experience positive emotions to ensure good welfare?

When we think of animal emotions and welfare, we often think about the negative aspects. We think about animals living in impoverished environments, animals lacking social contact, animals in distress and pain, or other horrible scenarios. A lot of recent animal welfare research has been dedicated to studying what practices and environments cause distress to the animal, and on developing better alternatives. I wonder, though, whether simply avoiding distress and pain automatically ensures good animal welfare? Or should we perhaps also give animals the opportunity to experience ‘joy’ or ‘pleasure’ (or any animal variant of positive emotion) to ensure their welfare is the best it possibly could be? This is not an easy question to answer. First of all, avoiding all distress and pain is unrealistic. We all need to do something we don’t like once in a while and that is part of life. For example, an animal won’t like being vaccinated (it involves a needle), but the vaccin