I’ve been reading an interesting article here – the gist being that octopuses are so intelligent that there’s a new move to ban live experimentation on cephalopods, offering them the same legal protection as cats, dogs and monkeys.
Octopuses may look like big, army bags of gas, but have shown many of the signs considered demonstrative of higher thought. For example, they can not only learn tricks and puzzles, but learn by watching the actions of other octopuses. They have been shown to feel anguish, fear and pain.
Yet it is currently legal to do, well, anything to them, alive or otherwise. No license is needed to experiment on them, and it’s not uncommon for restaurants in some parts of the world to serve them up live for particularly horrific customers (anyone seen the Korean film Old Boy? You’ll know what I mean.)
You just wonder how many animals have some remarkable levels of intelligence, but don’t have ways to demonstrate this in ways human beings understand. For example I saw a documentary years ago where pigs were given computer games to play for treats, and they outstripped the efforts of dogs and monkeys.
It’s a scary thought that one day we may develop new ways to communicate with animals, or at least gage their basic thoughts and emotions. Then we may have to realise that we’ve caused quite a bit of suffering over the years and have to come to terms with that. Because if “primitive” lifeforms such as octopuses can be legally designated sentient beings then we have to consider the intelligence of many other species way further up on the evolutionary ladder.