A cull dairy cow at auction

Sentience Quotes



Delve into animal sentience through these thoughtfully curated quotes that inspire positive change for animals.

How emotion quotes can be a tool for change

When you think of dogs, you may often think of them as 'man's best friend.'

However, did you know that King Frederick II of Prussia initially declared this in 1786, stating on his deathbed, “the only, absolute and best friend a man has, in this selfish world, the only one that will not betray or deny him, is his dog”? 

With greater recognition of animals' unique personalities and emotional connections, we can develop empathy and ethical treatment towards them, leading to better legal protections for their welfare. 

Quotes on recognising all sentient beings

Just as we have a moral responsibility to treat our pets with kindness and respect due to their ability to feel pleasure, pain, and emotions, the same principle applies to all sentient beings.

1. Charles Darwin

“… animals, like man, manifestly feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery.”

2. Broom, D. M. (2014). Sentience and animal welfare. Cabi.

“People have long appreciated the sentience of various domestic and other well-known animals and have often thought of their dog or horse as an example to follow or a friend who would help, rather than just as a resource object.

However, a rabbit is viewed differently according to whether it is a family pet, a laboratory animal, an animal kept for meat production, or a wild animal that eats your crops. This is not scientifically sound. A rabbit is a rabbit and each one feels pain or has cognitive function.”

3. Low, P., Panksepp, J., Reiss, D., Edelman, D., Van Swinderen, B., & Koch, C. (2012, July). The Cambridge declaration on consciousness. In Francis crick memorial conference, Cambridge, England (pp. 1-2). 

 “… the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Nonhuman animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.”

Delve into the depths of emotions experienced by animals with wildlife filmmaker and field biologist Dan O'Neill.

You can get to know more species through our Wild Animal Unique Personality Award. The award recognises the unique personalities of wild animals, highlighting their consciousness and emotions. This encourages others to consider their interests and take action against commercial exploitation that affects these charismatic creatures.

Animal welfare policy and ethics quotes

Acknowleging animal sentience can result in improved laws and policies regarding animal welfare, resource management, and cruelty prevention. Some countries have taken significant steps towards incorporating animal sentience into their animal welfare legislation.

4. Jones, R. C. (2013). Science, sentience, and animal welfare. Biology & philosophy, 28, 1-30

“It's unfortunate and troubling that there is a disconnect between most animal welfare policy and legislation on the one hand and the science of animal pain, sentience, and cognition on the other… The time for bringing welfare policy for farm animals in line with data from our best science is well-overdue.”

5. Jeremy Bentham (1789)

“The question is not, Can they reason?, nor Can they talk? but, Can they suffer? Why should the law refuse its protection to any sensitive being?”

6. Dr Jonathan Balcombe, PhD, author of What a Fish Knows, Pleasurable Kingdom, and Super Fly. 

“Sentience is the bedrock of ethics. The capacity for another being to feel means that they have interests, and that their wellbeing has moral weight.”


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Quotes to improve farm animal welfare

Every year, 80 billion land animals are raised for farming purposes. Shockingly, around 56 billion of these animals are confined to industrial farming systems where they are subjected to pain, stress, and unbearable suffering, all due to the increasing demand for inexpensive meat.

Recognising the sentience of farmed animals is pivotal, catalysing a necessary shift away from the inhumane treatment they endure within food systems.

7. Rowan, A. N., D’Silva, J. M., Duncan, I. J. H., & Palmer, N. (2021). Animal sentience: History, science, and politics. Animal Sentience, 6(31).

“The presence of pleasure adds much to the quality of life of human beings. Why should pleasure not also be important for animals? Pleasure may also be important to counteract the unavoidable negative states that occur when animals are handled, injected or transported.”

8. Dr. Alan McElligott, Associate Professor of Animal Behaviour and Welfare, Jockey Club College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences, Department of Infectious Diseases and Public Health, Centre for Animal Health and Welfare, City University of Hong Kong 

“Over the last 15 years, I have seen our knowledge of formerly neglected livestock, such as goats, increase tremendously. We now have a far better understanding of their behaviours, emotions, relations with human caregivers, and thus their sentience, and welfare needs.

I remain hopeful that this progress is leading to better lives for many of the more than one billion goats on the planet.

Ultimately, better lives for animals, and "lives worth living" must be the core goal for animal welfare researchers, and society in general.”

Animal Sentience Science Quotes

The power of researching animal sentience cannot be underestimated; a greater understanding of how wild animals can suffer in captivity underscored the public demands for the travel industry to change its practices.

By bridging the gap between scientific insights and ethical considerations, research into animal sentience paves the way for a more harmonious future of coexistence. 

9. Prof Marc Bekoff, author of The Emotional Lives of Animals, The Animals' Agenda: Freedom, Compassion, and Coexistence in the Human Age, and Dogs Demystified: An A-to-Z Guide to All Things Canine

“There is absolutely no doubt that countless nonhuman animals are sentient beings who feel deeply and passionately about what happens to them, their families, and many other individuals.

There no longer is any need whatsoever to engage with the few remaining nay-sayers who continue to wrongly claim, 'We're still not certain if other animals have feelings, if they're truly sentient.’

The biodiversity of sentience can be seen and felt everywhere, and is an ever-expanding group of nonhumans, and we must pay careful attention to what science and common sense are clearly telling us.”

10. Dr Helen Lambert, Animal Welfare Consultancy 

“The science of sentience is a fascinating and engaging world. Our understanding of animal sentience grows with every study and exploration into the emotional lives of animals. As we develop new ways to ‘speak animal’ we can learn more and more about the complex and intriguing world of animal emotions, and more importantly, how we can change the way we humans behave to better protect the welfare of the animals we impact.”


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Share these meaningful quotes with others, as they serve as important reminders to treat all sentient beings with the respect they truly deserve.

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