Classroom Resources


My name is Jad and I’m 22.  I grew up both in Saudi Arabia and Syria and my home now is my bedroom in Calgary. I am a biological anthropology and psychology student. Unfortunately, I did not receive a lot of education on animals as a child. I believe that education (globally and nationally) lacks content on animal awareness.

Growing up in the city of Riyadh, a huge metropolitan area with industrialized communities, there was a large population of street cats everywhere. They would be in the garbage bins and in alleyways. They were not friendly, but still adorable. In my culture, most birds of prey such as hawks or the Arabian falcon are considered representative of strength, intelligence, and tenacity. There is also a history of falcons being used in entertainment, or trained to perform tasks and fetch objects. Now that I understand the emotional bandwidth and intelligence of animals, I do not believe that this is ethical.

As a biological anthropology student, I have studied primates (and other animals) extensively. My interactions currently involve research at the zoo for my classes and studying primate behavior and cognition. There is now definitely a difference in my perception of animals. Growing up, animals were treated quite often as a resource, rather than as individuals. After understanding how animals (mostly primates) think, it is fair to say that animals are almost little people that just lack the ability to speak.

When I said that I see animals as little people, I was specifically referencing the African Grey Parrot. They are sentient, live up to 80 years, can communicate clearly, and are hyper-intelligent. All of these features make me feel as if this bird is just a human that can fly.

Animals have feelings like humans, but communicate them differently! It’s important for us to acknowledge that animals have as much right as we do to exist in safety and without stress. We have to stay attentive to their needs and respect the space that they are entitled to occupy.

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