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Masson talks animal emotions at ConU

by Archives November 25, 2003

Jeffrey Masson, New York Times best-selling author, was at Concordia Monday night to promote his latest book, and to pass on his adventures in researching farm animals and their capacity for emotion.

According to Masson, animals living in factory farms are being pushed to the edge of madness. “We are driving them crazy,” he said. These animals live in cages, with virtually no room to move.

The event featured a film by Masson entitled The Emotional World of Farm Animals. The screening documented his research for his new book called The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals.

His past books include When Elephants Weep, Dogs Never Lie about Love, and The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats.

Masson believes that human beings know that animals are suffering immeasurably in factory farms. “We get it. It’s not that we don’t get it,” he said.

He did not have an answer as to why many people turn the blind eye towards how these animals are treated.

He believes that the capacity to feel for these animals could be the key to a greater dissent towards factory farming. “We’ve got to be able to feel compassion,” he said.

The film showed Masson visiting a few farm animal sanctuaries. He wanted to get to know the animals he was going to study. “If I’m going to write about them, I’ll have to get to know them,” he said in the screening.

The audience made the acquaintance of many farm animals, such as Val and Susie, two pigs born in a research laboratory. They are now kept at the Animal Place Sanctuary.

The film also featured Freddy, a small black and white pig, who was shown circling his caretaker anxiously at mealtime and snuggling comfortably in a baby carrier afterwards.

Queenie, the cow that escaped from a Queens, New York slaughterhouse was also featured in the film.

There was footage in the film of Queenie running through the streets of Queens with a dozen policemen chasing after her. When she was captured, she was brought to Farm Sanctuary to live out the rest of her years.

When she stepped off the truck, Queenie let out a loud “moo” and all the other cows in the sanctuary followed with a “moo” of their own.

Throughout the film, there were images of farm animals displaying their love for their caretakers and their capacity for playfulness. Near the end of the film Masson stated that: “Their emotions may impact yours forever.”

Queenie’s example of courage and intelligence could be a step towards understanding the emotions of farm animals, according to Masson. “Queenie is no different from other farm animals,” he said.

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