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Development of animal welfare understanding drives change in minimum welfare standards
|Author(s) :||D.J. Mellor & J.R. Webster|
The process by which societies adapt to increasing knowledge about the mental and physical capacities of animals and the ways in which they are affected by human activities has been described as a journey. Different countries and regions are at various stages of this journey, and will take a unique path, depending on their specific social and cultural dynamics. However, all participants are unified by an increasing awareness of, and concern for, animal welfare. This journey has been characterised by a number of landmark events, one of which was the release of the Five Freedoms concept. Although aspirational and abstract, as it did not outline specific practical goals, nonetheless this concept became a catalyst for moving animal welfare thinking in a new direction, and set up a number of important targets for research. This eventually led to a key shift in thinking from a focus on biological functioning and resources, to ways of assessing welfare outcomes in terms of animals’ experiences, i.e. their affective states.