No amount of champagne, cakes or booze-fuelled parties can mask the reality of the what the ANC has become.
Morning clouds. Cool.
think about how we humans make animals feel? As pets, they provide us with
companionship and as creatures of commerce they give us sustenance through
various resources and products, but how do we make them feel? Or is it silly to
imbue animals with characteristics, like feelings or emotions, that only humans
are capable of having?
research on two types of animals, one wild and the other domesticated and
commercialised, sheds what I think is some interesting light on these issues.
In a paper published in the Journal of Endocrinology
in July, a group of experts in animal science and dairy science (yes,
apparently there is such a thing) from the USA and Switzerland describe the
effects of injecting pregnant milk cows with a chemical called 5-HTP
(5hydroxy-L-tryptophan). It’s what they call “the immediate precursor to
serotonin synthesis” – in other words it’s a substance that the body converts
itself is, of course, a natural feel-good chemical, and media commentators have
suggested that one of the benefits of this study is that it made the cows – a
dozen Holsteins and a dozen Jerseys – happy.
adorable, doesn’t it. I suspect that the researchers themselves aren’t
particularly interested in their test subjects’ supposed mental state. The
actual aim of their study was to find a way to prevent a condition called
hypocalcemia, which involves low levels of blood calcium and is especially
common in cows that are transitioning from pregnancy to lactation. It’s a
disorder that may result in digestive and immunological problems, lowered
pregnancy rates and longer intervals between successive pregnancies.
of the study appear to be promising. Daily 5-HTP injections made for healthier
cows and raised the concentration of serotonin in the blood of some of them.
The “happier” cows also tended to produce more nutritious, more calcium-rich
here’s the positive spin on this story: modern veterinary science makes for
more joyful cows and better milk. The much darker back-story is that the
majority of modern commercialised dairy cows are little more than milk
producing machines valued only as financial assets. They need to be kept
pregnant pretty much constantly in order to produce as much milk as possible.
This is achieved by dosing them with a variety of chemicals. Does that make
them happy? You tell me...
completely unrelated study, illustrates a
different way in which humans are affecting animals. It would appear that birds
that live in cities are noticeably angrier than their more docile country
researchers simulated intrusions of foreign males into the territories of male
song sparrows in suburban areas of Virginia in the USA, the birds tended to
defend their turf much more vigorously than males of the same species living in
rural surroundings. The scientists found no obvious correlation between this
aggressiveness and testosterone levels or population density and suggest that
the more limited availability of breeding sides in urban areas may be to blame.
sprawl is a primary form of human habitat change,” explains Kendra Sewall, one
of the co-authors of the paper, “and though many species can survive in our
backyards, their behaviour and physiology may change to cope with shifts in
resources and with new disturbances." So, by creating cities that are less
bird-friendly than natural habitats, we’re making birds “angry”? I guess so.
we are constantly affecting the lives of animals, both wild and domesticated,
in many direct and indirect ways. “So what?” you might say. You can, of course
go through your own life blissfully unaware of the impact you’re having on theirs,
but I recon it’s worthwhile, every now and again, to take stock of how we treat
and interact with other creatures. Don’t you think?
- Andreas is a freelance writer with a PhD in geochemistry. Follow him on Twitter: @Andreas_Spath
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expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are
therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.
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