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Animal Definition

The Animal Justice Party (AJP) recognises the complexity and extent of the non-human animal world, and values and respects all animal forms. Humans are animals too, but the focus here is on non-human animals. For practical reasons, the AJP will focus its activities on a narrower sub-set of animals, based primarily on sentience, cognition and interests.

For the purpose of animal protection legislation, the AJP supports a legal definition of the term ‘animal’ that is consistent across all Australian jurisdictions and that includes at the minimum all animals that can or are likely to suffer pain, based on the most recent science. When in doubt, the AJP will push for animals to be protected as a precaution.

Key Objectives

  1. Value and respect all animals, regardless of their species or stage of development, whether they are currently understood to be simple or complex, sentient or non-sentient, and whether they are native or introduced, exploited by humans or living freely.
  2. As a party, prioritise activities and advocacy towards species for which there is evidence or likelihood of sentience, intelligence, cognition, self-awareness, interests or when animals lack the above but are, or are proposed to be, exploited for recreational or commercial purposes.
  3. Refer to science and apply the precautionary principle to identify the above characteristics in various species of animals, especially invertebrates, recognising that science is imperfect and in a perpetual state of development.
  4. Support changes to animal protection legislation to recognise animal sentience and its rich complexity, and to incorporate the Animal Sentience Precautionary Principle as a new guiding principle to afford protection for more animals.
  5. Ensure that the definition of ‘animal’ in animal protection legislation is consistent across all jurisdictions in Australia (for more, see our Animal Law policy).
  6. Ensure that this definition includes, at the minimum, animals who are capable of suffering pain, regardless of the species, stage of development, or the animals’ relationship with humans. The definition should therefore include at least:
    • mammals, birds and reptiles, including prenatal or prehatch stages past mid-point gestation/incubation;
    • fish and amphibians;
    • cephalopods (octopus, squid, cuttlefish);
    • malacostraca (crabs, lobsters, crayfish and prawns);
    • and any other species or life stage that has the capacity to suffer pain, based on emerging scientific evidence and the animal sentience precautionary principle.
  7. Support the quest for relevant scientific evidence through observational studies which do not involve causing distress, pain or suffering to animals in a bid to prove their sentience.

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