The Animal Talks: do animals want to be in the media?

A cat with its own Twitter account, advertisements featuring a dog for a car brand, or horses in a movie: we see lots of animals in the media. With the rise of social media, that number has only increased. Do images of animals increase understanding and insight, or does it actually lead to a distorted view? Can you actually use animals for advertising and film? And if so, is the welfare of the animal guaranteed? These questions were the focus of the Animal Talks.

The theme of the 4th Animal Talks was 'Animals in Images' and focused on animals used on social media, in advertisements, films and other forms of media. Franck Meijboom external link associate professor of ethics at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and organizer of the Animal Talks is enthusiastic about the course of the evening. "The conversations at the various dialogue tables went in all directions, but that's just fine. From 'animals in advertising incite to the purchase of such an animal,' to 'stopping is not possible because animals are just as much a part of our society.'" Still, according to Meijboom, there was a trend in the conversations: "when we talk about animal welfare, what role does media play in it? And what role could the media play in this?"

Dealing with animals

Every year, the Centre for Sustainable Animal Stewardship (CenSAS) external link organizes the Animal Talks, to reflect together on our dealings with animals. The event is intended for interested parties, as well as experts and professionals. The purpose of the Animal Talks is to look for sustainable and responsible solutions to social issues while simultaneously looking at what topics researchers can work on. "We are still going to analyze everything, but after this Animal Talks it is certainly clear that 'the role of the media in animal welfare' deserves our attention. Possibly it will also become a topic for further research within CenSAS," Meijboom said.

About CenSAS

The Centre for Sustainable Animal Stewardship (CenSAS) external link stands for sustainable and responsible cohabitation of humans and animals. It is a collaboration between Utrecht University and Wageningen University & Research. Its staff conducts research, provides education and facilitates social dialogue in the field of human-animal relations, animal welfare and animal ethics.