A coalition of scientists, animal-rights activists, and philosophers are in agreement: dolphins, second only to humans in terms of mammalian intelligence, should be considered “non-human persons” and granted due protection under law, reports The Telegraph.
At the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Vancouver last week, the group, led by Dr. Thomas White, was canvassing for support of their “Declaration of Cetacean Rights.”
“The similarities between cetaceans and humans are such that they, as we, have an individual sense of self,” said White, an ethics expert at Loyola Marymount University, to The Telegraph. “Dolphins are non human persons. A person needs to be an individual. If individuals count, then the deliberate killing of individuals of this sort is ethically the equivalent of deliberately killing a human being. The science has shown that individuality, consciousness, self-awareness is no longer a unique human property. That poses all kinds of challenges.”
Dolphin research has show that the creatures are more intelligent than chimpanzees, they recognize their reflections in a mirror, and can even think about the future.
The scientists originally proposed the ten Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans two years ago at a conference in Helsinki. You can sign the petition at CetationRights.org.
(Photo: Chris Johnson)