BoJo Keeps Election Promise: Parliament Debates Animal Sentience Bill, Tries To Determine Animal Feelings and Intelligence

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LONDON — How does a lobster feel when it’s dropped into the boiling pot? The British Parliament wants to know.

Is an octopus sad, sometimes? Does the squid learn its lessons? The bee feel joy? The earthworm anxiety? The peers in the House of Lords are currently debating the matter.

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These questions arise because Prime Minister Boris Johnson is trying to make good on his electoral pledge to enshrine into law the idea that animals are “sentient beings,” meaning the government would be obligated to not only safeguard creatures’ physical well-being but also take into account their feelings — of pleasure, pain and more.

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The Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill is a potentially sweeping piece of legislation that could require all arms of government — not just the agriculture ministry — to consider animal sentience when forming policy and writing regulations.


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