As one of the first animals to be domesticated, sheep have been living alongside humans for nearly 11,000 years. Sadly, sheep and lambs have primarily been raised and used as a source of meat, wool, and milk — despite the fact that they have distinctive personalities, rich emotional lives, and strong family ties.
COK’s latest undercover investigation, the first look inside a US lamb slaughterhouse, has exposed egregious abuse of lambs by the nation’s largest lamb producer (read the breaking story from New York Times) –– but these incredible animals deserve so much better.
Did you know February is also Lamb Lovers Month? We’re putting a sweet spin on this industry-declared occasion by highlighting some of the many reasons to love lambs (and sheep), not eat them!
- Sheep have exceptional memories: They can recognize the individual faces of at least 50 other sheep — and remember them for two years. Scientists have shown that they have specialized areas in the brain for face recognition, much like humans.
- Sheep communicate: Despite the belief that animals can’t speak — sheep do, in fact, communicate vocally. They use different sounds to express different emotions, and also recognize emotions through facial expression. They cry out when in pain, and — like humans — have an increase in cortisol (the stress hormone) during difficult situations.
- Sheep are doting mothers: They form strong bonds with their lambs and can recognize the sound of their individual call when they wander away.
- Sheep self-medicate: After eating illness-inducing foods, they choose to consume plants and substances that can help ease their condition. Ever notice your dog eating grass for the same reason?
- Sheep weren’t always wooly: Thousands of years ago, the ancestors of domestic sheep had hair (not wool), which shed naturally during the spring and summer. Today’s sheep were selectively bred for wool, which continues to grow and can weigh the animals down and cause physical problems — hence why domesticated sheep need to be shorn.
- Sheep are social: While male sheep (or ram) typically hang out in herds of 5-50 sheep at a time, female sheep (or ewes) can live in herds of up to 100 sheep and lambs!
You can also celebrate Lamb Lovers Month by having a heart for lambs and all animals: Send an adorable Valentine’s Day eCard when you dedicate your COK donation to a special friend or loved one!
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