Sheep have gotten a negative connotation for not being able to function independently, always following the herd, shown with the relationship they have with dogs. They are shown to be stubborn animals who have to be kept collectively while the dog follows and guides them to where they need to be, etc.. However, being together in a flock is actually the smart thing to do, especially when being chased by a predator, as there is strength in numbers and it is harder to get targeted if they do not act individually (Susan Schoenian, ""Smart" Sheep").
To test the ability of sheep, a bucket test was given to 7 sheep. Put simply, the sheep were given specific colors and shapes to memorize as correct choices in order to get food from a bucket. Once they memorized the specific combination, they were tested twice, for memory retention and when the correct choices were reversed or changed. The tests ranged from “discrimination learning”, “reversal learning”, and “attentional set-shifting” (Paul F. Norris, "Sheep: Barnyard Brainiacs”), with correct colors assigned and reassigned for the food reward and later the correct shape. Results showed that sheep took “about the same s...
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...epends on the reader’s stance of how unethical this might be.
Sheep may be known to be a common farm animal and the supplier of wool, but they are much more than that. They have consistently shown results that places them at a level of intelligence comparable to humans and monkeys, the two species considered the pinnacle of cognitive ability. Rather than being completely mindless, sheep can think independently, making correct choices by what they learned and remember, most likely using the flock as a protective mechanism rather than a dictation of how they think. With this newfound intelligence comes the prospect of the backlash of animal rights groups who may protest the use of sheep in testing. However, an interesting fact to keep in mind was that the sheep did not show behaviors of distress while being tested and the ethics of animal testing can be very ambiguous.
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