Let’s give Invisible Animals a voice

Discussions on animal welfare in Switzerland revolve around the conventional categories of animals: wild animals, domesticated animals, and what is commonly referred to as “farmed animals”. Unfortunately, this perspective overlooks the concerns of numerous other non-human animals – those that go unnoticed and have minimal – if any – legal protection. We are referring to the non-human animals that co-exist with us in urban or suburban areas but not within our homes. These are the sentient beings, often alien to us, perceived as “ugly” or labelled as a “nuisance”. Those whose inherent dignity is denied because of their appearance or their function within society. You guessed it: we are talking about the “invisible” animals – pigeons, rats, bees and fish.

The lack of attention given to these non-human animals makes us, as humans, forget that …

… we share with them the capacity for pain and pleasure. At the heart of Sentience, we believe that acknowledging a being’s ability to suffer serves as a decisive moral criterion, influencing how we determine their treatment. This is why, for the past 10 years, we have been advocating for the interests of non-human animals on the Swiss political stage. Now is the time to focus on the “invisible” animals beyond the moral perspective, and to examine closely the ecological aspect. Ultimately, these non-human animals contribute in their own way to our shared ecosystem: bees are essential for biodiversity and food security, rats keep our streets clean, and pigeons spread seeds as they fly through our cities. Subtly and silently, they all participate in the seamless functioning of our community.

In our society, the “invisible” animals are exposed every day to immense suffering. Pesticides strip bees of their navigational abilities, rats face an agonising death from rodenticides, sick pigeons lie lifeless on the streets, and fish are confined in aquaculture basins under conditions that would be deemed unacceptable even in factory farming. At Sentience, we firmly believe that these non-human animals warrant increased attention, consideration and protection. To eradicate prevailing mistreatment, we must raise public awareness and work together to advocate for the interests of non-human animals in the political realm. Implementing even small changes – such as banning specific rodenticides or pesticides, maintaining pigeon lofts, and improving water quality in aquaculture basins – can significantly improve the welfare of billions of non-human animals.

Act now by signing our petitions, and help the “invisible” animals gain political traction.

13'284out of 20'000 signatures
Corinne W.vor 1 Minute
Remo P.vor 2 Minuten
Michèle R.vor 5 Minuten
RUTH R.vor 28 Minuten
Margherita B.vor 32 Minuten
Blanca H.vor 33 Minuten
I sign for…
By signing, you confirm that you have read our privacy policy.

Supporting organisations

Our 4 animals

Pigeons

There are between 200’000 and 300’000 pigeons across Swiss cities. Unfortunately, the needs and requirements of pigeons in urban habitat are hardly recognised by society, and the interests of pigeons are also hardly scrutinised politically; which is why the welfare of these birds is increasingly jeopardised. There are currently too many sick or weakened pigeons in cities. They suffer from stress, disease and poor living conditions.

Pigeons feel pain and suffering, but also have, for instance, remarkable spatial orientation abilities. In addition, pigeons are social animals: they form pair bonds, engage in courtship and even display signs of cooperative behaviour. Despite clear evidence of pigeons’ intelligence, they are still being wilfully harmed. Their dignity is flouted and they do not enjoy the legal protection afforded to other non-human animals.

Sign our petition today, and help us protect pigeons.

Petition

1

Development of a pigeon-friendly population management concept

2

Provision of financial resources for the construction and maintenance of professionally managed pigeon lofts

3

Implementation of a humane population control system that is compliant to animal welfare standards

4

Placing greater importance on the pigeons’ role as city dwellers in city and urban planning

5

Ensuring better medical care for pigeons

Rats

In Switzerland, between 500’000 and 1.5 million rats are affected by the use of rodenticides every year. Rodenticides leave rats to suffer an agonising death over the course of several days. However, the repercussions of rodenticides extend beyond rats. Wild animals such as birds, foxes and fish, as well as companion animals – such as cats and dogs – also come into contact with rodenticides. These harmful substances can also have serious consequences for humans – especially for young children.

The suffering of rats is often overlooked and hardly ever discussed in public discourse. Yet, rats are demonstrably sentient creatures: they feel pain, suffering, regret, but also pleasure, joy, empathy and even laughter: rats giggle when tickled! We are convinced that there are more humane ways of co-existing, which is why we are calling for a reconsideration of rodent population management methods.

Sign our petition today and help us protect urban rats.

Petition

1

Development of a phase-out plan to replace rodenticides with more humane methods of rat population management

2

Raising awareness on measures and methods that prevent rat overpopulation

3

Restrictions on the sale and use of smoke or gas cartridges, which kill rats by asphyxiation and other sufferings

4

Ban on the sale and use of anticoagulant rodenticides, which cause a painful death from internal haemorrhage in rats

5

Ban on the sale and use of rodenticides containing zinc phosphide, which leave rats with breathing difficulties, seizures, circulatory weakness, abdominal pain and bloody vomiting

Bees

Wild pollinators, such as mining bees or leafcutter bees, play an essential role in balancing our ecosystems. Yet, every year in Switzerland, billions of bees are affected by the use of pesticides. Right now, campaigns aimed at protecting wild pollinators mainly focus on the impacts of pesticides on biodiversity and human public health. Regrettably, no campaigning efforts are ever directed towards wild and honey bees’ welfare or pesticides’ harm on individual bees.

Although the brain of bees is only the size of a pinhead, it contains a million neurons. The neuronal density of their brain – an indicator of intelligence – is therefore 10 times greater than that of a mammalian brain. Honey bees, for example, have a “rich inner world”: they can problem-solve and experience various emotional states. Despite the fact that wild bees are less studied than honey bees, they too have highly developed learning abilities and exhibit fascinating behaviours.

Sign our petition today and help us protect bees.

Petition

1

Development of a reduction plan for pesticides from the groups of pyrethroids (e.g., cypermethrin and deltamethrin) and neonicotinoids (e.g., clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam)

2

Increased consideration of the role of wild bees (and pollinators) in city and urban planning (creation of natural green spaces, water bodies, as well as green roofs and facades)

3

Enhanced implementation of flowering strips (as well as the promotion of research in the area of seed mixtures to support the well-being of wild pollinators)

4

Stricter regulations on the use of mower conditioners, splinters and related equipment

5

Construction and maintenance of species-appropriate nesting sites for various species of wild bees

Fish

In recent decades, fish farming has become increasingly important. In 2021, Switzerland “produced” a total of 3’850 tonnes of fish, of which 2’364 tonnes came from aquaculture; this represents around 5 million animals per year. The fact that fish farming is calculated in tonnes and not in numbers of individuals illustrates the focus on profitability alone. We tend to forget that, behind these figures, are sentient beings subjected to great suffering in fish farming.

Many of fish’s cognitive abilities often match or exceed that of other vertebrates. Most aquatic animals can feel pain. However, fish also exhibit signs of cooperation and altruism, along with the capacity for pleasure – particularly through playful behaviour. Given the growing evidence of fish sentience, we believe that these animals must be equipped with the same level of protection as any other vertebrate.

Sign our petition today and help us protect fish.

Petition

1

Expansion of the legal protection for fish in aquaculture

2

Permitting housing only for species deemed appropriate for breeding based on scientific understanding

3

General improvements in fish farming practices (e.g., structuring tanks with elements that serve the natural behaviour of fish)

4

Mandatory recording and State oversight of relevant husbandry data (e.g., mortality rate, stocking density and water quality)

5

Moratorium on the construction of industrial salmon farms

Why pigeons, rats, bees and fish?

We launched the “Invisible Animals” campaign as we realised that a significant obstacle to improving the lives of pigeons, rats, bees and fish is the lack of public and political awareness. These non-human animals endure profound daily suffering, often as a consequence of human activities. However, their capacity for pain is either completely ignored (as seen with rats and pigeons), or fundamentally questioned (as is the case with fish and bees). At Sentience, we firmly hold that the problems highlighted in this campaign are not insurmountable, as they do not arise from conflicting interests between humans and non-human animals. Instead, the underlying issues stem from a lack of awareness and empathy.

Our goal is to confront these challenges through elevating public awareness and …

… exerting political pressure, laying the foundation for a future in which the suffering of all non-human animals becomes an integral part of public discourse. In practice, by giving due consideration to the well-being of “invisible” animals, we also enhance our own welfare. The realisation of our demands will contribute to an ecologically diverse and pollution-free habitat for all urban and rural dwellers. The outcome would manifest in smaller but healthier pigeon populations; cleaner cities with reduced risks of companion animals being inadvertently harmed by rodenticides; increased biodiversity through a greater number of bees; and aquaculture practices that no longer need to be concealed from the public eye.

We hope that the “Invisible Animals” campaign will have a far-reaching impact and will benefit other neglected non-human animal groups.

What do our petitions aim to achieve?

At Sentience, we are committed to placing the interests of non-human animals at the centre of society. To achieve this goal, we actively raise public awareness regarding specific issues, and leverage the political resources available to us in Switzerland. Through our four petitions, we are urging policymakers to take the suffering of pigeons, rats, bees and fish seriously. The more signatures we collect on our petitions (this is where you come in!), the more we can show politicians that the public is deeply concerned about the protection and welfare of non-human animals.

Many signatures will enable us to carry our demands onto the political stage ….

… Parliamentary allies will take our petitions to parliament, where we will work towards implementing tangible changes in the form of political initiatives. In practice, this translates into reduced pesticide use for bees, fewer rodenticides affecting rats, enhanced population management for pigeons, and improved living conditions for fish in aquaculture.

Given the current lack of lobbying for these non-human animals, there exists significant potential to alleviate and to prevent substantial suffering through straightforward, simple, and practical measures. Together, we can make the “invisible” animals visible, and help to improve the lives of billions of non-human animals. It all starts with your signature.