One of the people that I consider a hero in animal welfare is Temple Grandin. If you are not familiar with her work you might thing that it is unusual to classify a person that has spent her live working with slaughterhouses as an animal welfare activist, but her work has been focused entirely on reducing stress and fear in animals when they are brought to slaughter. She single handedly revolutionized the design of slaughter houses and in 2010 was named one of 100 Most Influential People by Time Magazine. That same year a movie was made about her life and, oh yeah, she is also a college professor, successful author of multiple books, and has been on countless TV appearances. What makes these achievements even more incredible is that she is autistic.
Being autistic has allowed Temple Grandin to understand the world from an animals point of view. In her books she explains how “normal” human brains think in language where autistic brains think in pictures. Animals think more like the autistic brain where pictures and changes in those pictures are much more significant to them than humans.
I highly suggest reading her books, but also check out her website. It not very stylized but there is A LOT of information in it. The link below is for a paper that she wrote addressing the question of the consciousness of animals. I think it’s an interesting article and it gives animals a lot of credit for their intelligence and skills.
Written by Rachel Burmeister, Internship Coordinator 2011-2012