Animal welfare is an elastic concept. Slippery ice. It undoubtedly involves a great deal of anthropocentric interpretation. A tuna is an animal, a fish at that. And yet I had looked into the eyes of a living tuna too often not to recognise that more was going on in that big head than rudimentary thoughts about eating, swimming and spawning. A thought, of course, one which you would often detect in swooning whale and dolphin conservationists, who believed they had discovered a notion of understanding when looking into the eyes of their sea mammals instead of into their big-teethed jaws. (My theory: we attribute excessive self-awareness to all animals with a large head and big eyes. There is some perceptible movement in the eye that makes us wish to believe that there is such a thing as mutual recognition or a dawning empathy; which does not necessarily have to be the case. Somebody should investigate this). But wasn’t the danger just as much in the denial of any feeling or self-awareness in animals? The Dutch primatologist and behavioural biologist Frans de Waal had written some fine books about that, one of which was, as it happens, called The Ape and the Sushi Master . But a primate was no fish, of course.
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