Animals To Be Formally Recognised As Sentient Beings In The UK

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 12 May 2021 10:33
Animals To Be Formally Recognised As Sentient Beings In The UKPixabay/PA

Animals are to be formally recognised as sentient beings in the UK for the first time in history.

The move comes as part of the government’s new Action Plan for Animal Welfare, which was launched by Environment Secretary George Eustice today, May 12.


Welfare campaigners have long said that animals are sentient beings, meaning they’re aware of feelings and sensations the same way humans are, so this comes as a huge victory.

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Action Plan for Animal Welfare has been broken down into four different categories: pets, wild animals, animals abroad and farmed animals.

The new plan looks to tackle several aspects of animal welfare, including: tackling puppy smuggling through changes to import rules; making it illegal to keep primates as pets; banning the import of hunting trophies from endangered animals; and ending the export of live animals for fattening and slaughter.


Other plans include cracking down on pet theft through a new government taskforce, exploring a ban on the sale of foie gras, introducing compulsory microchipping for cats, and examining the use of cages for poultry and farrowing crates for pigs.

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Eustice said of the new plan:

We are a nation of animal lovers and were the first country in the world to pass animal welfare laws.

Our Action Plan for Animal Welfare will deliver on our manifesto commitment to ban the export of live animal exports for slaughter and fattening, prohibit keeping primates as pets and bring in new laws to tackle puppy smuggling.


‘We will lead on the protection of animals abroad by implementing the world’s toughest ivory ban and banning the import of hunting trophies to protect iconic species. As an independent nation we are now able to go further than ever to build on our excellent track record,’ he added.

James West, senior policy manager at Compassion in World Farming, a pressure group, believes some of the new policies have been announced in the wake of the work pressure groups such as his have done, and that he’s ‘delighted’ with some of the new laws.

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He told The Guardian: ‘We have long been calling for UK legislation that recognises animals as sentient beings and for sentience to be given due regard when formulating and implementing policy.


‘We are also delighted the government has confirmed it will legislate for a long-overdue ban on live exports for slaughter and fattening. We have been campaigning for this for decades: it is high time this cruel and unnecessary trade is finally brought to an end.’

The Animal Sentience Bill will be introduced in parliament tomorrow, May 13.

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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: Animals, Animal Welfare, News, UK


Gov.uk and 1 other
  1. Gov.uk

    UK to lead the way on animal welfare through flagship new Action Plan

  2. The Guardian

    Animals to be formally recognised as sentient beings in UK law