Ep13 Donald Broom on the evolution of animal welfare science and relationships with animals, morality, and welfare for all

2020 ibuzz podcast Sep 04, 2020

In this episode the father of animal welfare, Donald Broom, Emeritus Professor of Animal Welfare at Cambridge UniversityDepartment of Veterinary Medicine and St Catharine's College, takes us on a journey through the emergence of animal welfare as a scientific field and discusses its role in the world today.

Donald is a long-standing pillar of the animal welfare community, having been Chairman or Vice Chairman of EU Scientific Committees on Animal Welfare 1990 – 2012. His many contributions to the field include scientific assessment of animal welfare, cognitive abilities of animals, ethics of animal usage, the evolution of morality, and sustainable farming. He has published over 360 refereed papers and eleven books including: 

"The Evolution of Morality and religion" (2003 CUP)

“Sentience and Animal Welfare” (2014 CABI)

"Domestic Animal Behaviour and Welfare, 5th edition" (2015 CABI) 

“Tourism and Animal Welfare” (2018 CABI) 

“Stress and Animal Welfare: Key Issues in the Biology of Humans and Other Animals”, 2nd edn (2019 Springer)

In our podcast today, Donald shares his experience in the field starting at a time when the scientific community viewed animal welfare as unmeasurable and the greater community viewed animals as machines. He walks us through his work at Cambridge where he raised funds to do scientific work on animal welfare and to develop it as a scientific subject area, and where he became the world’s first ever professor of animal welfare in 1986. Not only did he help to catalyse this scientific shift, but he also witnessed the shift of people starting to think of animals as individuals and not machines, as “we” is now coming to mean all of us sentient beings, not just “we humans”.

Donald shares with us some of the successes that have emerged from animal welfare science, and impresses the need to continue research in all aspects of welfare, particularly on learning studies to give animals more control of their lives. In the modern world, and especially in 2020 as we are confronted with COVID-19, Donald highlights the moral duty that “we the humans have to do something about we the sentient animals” to ensure welfare for all. Together, we can create a world where all we sentient beings are happy and healthy.

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