Chickens Might Be As Smart As Dolphins


A study published this week in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Animal Cognition, detailed the intelligence of chickens. Most, typically brand them as a stupid bird that lacks any intelligence whatsoever. However, the findings are the very opposite.

Among the observations in the paper:

  • Chickens possess some understanding of numbers and basic arithmetic.
  • They communicate in complex ways, including referential communication, which may depend upon a level of self-awareness and the ability to take the perspective of another animal.
  • Chickens have the capacity to reason and make logical inferences. For example, they are capable of simple forms of deductive reasoning, a capability that humans develop at about the age of 7.
  • They can perceive time intervals and appear able to anticipate future events.
  • They are behaviorally sophisticated, learning social skills and rules in complex ways that are similar to humans.
  • Chickens have complex negative and positive emotions, and have shown evidence for a simple form of empathy.
  • Just like all animals, they have distinct personalities, and are cognitively, emotionally and behaviorally complex individuals.

The studies indicate that they are on par with other highly intelligent species such as dogs, chimpanzees, elephants, dolphins and even humans.

Marino is the executive director of the Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy, a nonprofit organization that supports basic animal rights.


Marino and other animal advocates hope that the research into the intelligence and social complexities of chickens will be explored more in behavioural research with chickens in a natural setting, and the results will help to change how we think about and how we treat chickens.

It’s frustrating that because they produce eggs (essentially a period) we think it’s acceptable to enslave them and then kill them. Whereas, animals like dolphins and dogs are incredibly protected. The punishment for harming or killing a dog is severe. Yet, kill a chicken and it’s not a problem.

This is the issue with todays society. Compassion is taught to be specific and does not apply to all beings.

We can hope that with studies like these it brings it to the attention of the general public. Chickens should not be murdered and exploited just as any other animal or human also shouldn’t. We may look different yet we all feel pain, emotion and have personality.


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