Chickens Experience Empathy When Their Chicks Are Disturbed

hen with chicks photo

photo: James Emery/Creative Commons

Another interesting bit about the emotional lives of animals: Proceedings of the Royal Society B (h/t Mongabay) has published a study showing that mother hens show both physical and behavioral responses when their chicks are even mildly distressed that can be interpreted as displays of empathy.Research Jo Edgar, a PhD candidate at the University of Bristol, says,

We found that adult female birds possess at least one of the essential underpinning attributes of 'empathy'; the ability to be affected by, and share, the emotional state of another.

Important to note: All tests were done non-invasively.

I won't wax on about this too long as the implications for improving the conditions in which chickens are housed are great--even if you stop short of coming to think that perhaps we shouldn't be housing large amounts of chickens for our food at all.

More on Animals:
Gorilla Inconsolable After Death of Her Lifelong Mate
Elephants Cooperate With One Another As Well As Apes Do

Chickens Experience Empathy When Their Chicks Are Disturbed
Another interesting bit about the emotional lives of animals: Proceedings of the Royal Society B (h/t Mongabay) has published a study showing that mother hens show both physical and behavioral responses when their

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