Attitudes toward nonhuman animals are clearly changing in the many contexts in which we interact with them – from the roads that we build through their habitats, to the treatment of our companion animals, to the food we put on our plates. To say that these issues are both important to the Canadian public and highly controversial would be an understatement. Stories in the popular media that speak to this include: the Toronto City Council’s decision to relocate the elephants from the Toronto Zoo to a sanctuary, the handful of animal-welfare-related bills that have recently appeared or are currently before parliament (including Bills C-251, C-246, and S-214), and the controversy surrounding the fatal shooting of the gorilla, Harambe, at the Cincinatti Zoo. While scholarly interest has generated important work in critical animal philosophy
it has not yet produced a unified theoretical framework that can effectively inform and transform the many public and science policies that guide and constrain our interactions with nonhuman animals. This lacuna is evident in the logical inconsistencies and confusions in current legal and political discourse.
In Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights (2011), Canadian scholars Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka offer a new theory that has the potential to guide the development of this much-needed framework. However, these challenging ideas have not yet entered discussions in the popular media or captured the imagination of the general public. Our panel will go some way toward ameliorating this.