Chickens Can Feel Empathy, Say Scientists

Think twice before you use the old “birdbrained” insult now: A study by British researchers released Wednesday said chickens have the ability to empathize. Researchers exposed chicks to bursts of air, and when the chicks responded with signs of distress, their mother reacted similarly. The hens’ heart rate increased, their eye temperature lowered, they became increasingly alert, and mothers made more clucking noises toward the chicks. Researchers said the results could give insight into how farm communities work; empathy was previously believed to be a human trait. Scientists also said they chose hens and chicks because they want to see how empathy is related to parental care.