Science and Animal Advocacy

Kimmela applies peer-reviewed science to advocacy for the protection and rights of farmed animals, captive wildlife, and animals used in therapy.

Captive Wildlife

Dr. Marino and her colleagues conduct research and publish peer-reviewed papers on the well-being of large-brained, highly social animals, i.e., dolphins and whales, elephants, in captivity.

Dr. Marino also makes professional appearances, provides expert testimony and media interviews to bring scientific credibility to advocacy efforts on behalf of captive wild animals, such as dolphins, whales, elephants, and primates.

Dr. Marino is the Founder and President of the Whale Sanctuary Project, which is working to transform the way people relate to whales and dolphins by bringing an end to their exploitation and by creating seaside sanctuaries, assisting with international marine mammal rescues, and advancing whale and dolphin science.

The Someone Project

In a collaboration with Farm Sanctuary, the Kimmela Center brought together the scientific evidence for cognition, emotional and social complexity in farmed animals to demonstrate they are all “someone” – not “something“.

The Someone Project included the production of peer-reviewed scientific review papers and white papers, presentations at professional conferences, and a Call for Sanctuary-based Research Proposals. These materials continue to be used to promote an increased understanding, awareness of, and appreciation for the cognitive, behavioral, and emotional lives of farmed animals. Dr. Marino is currently on the Animals Advisory Committee for Farm Sanctuary Research.

The Someone Project generated four white papers:

Thinking Pigs: A Comparative Review of Cognition, Emotion and Personality in Sus Domesticus.
Download the peer-reviewed paper.
Download the white paper.

Thinking Chickens: A review of cognition, emotion and behavior in the domestic chicken.
Download the peer-reviewed paper.
Download the white paper.

The Psychology of Cows: A review of cognition, emotion and the social lives of domestic cows.
Download the peer-reviewed paper.
Download the white paper.

Intelligence, Complexity and Individuality in Sheep
Download the peer-reviewed paper.
Download the white paper.

“I Am Not an Animal!”

This project explores how the psychological dynamics of our fear of death shape our relationships with other animals, leading to our need to claim superiority over them in ways that are often exploitative and abusive.

Scientific studies on Terror Management Theory (how we deal with the anxiety of mortality awareness) show that reminders of our own mortality create a strong psychological need to proclaim that “I am not an animal!” and thus drive the need to dominate, exploit and abuse our fellow animals.

In accordance with our mission to apply science to animal advocacy, these findings provide opportunities for deeper glimpses into our relationships with other animals and help us to determine how animal protection efforts and messaging might be made more effective.

Our peer-reviewed paper was published in the journal Anthrozoos in 2014 and is updated in a 2022 white paper.

The Validity of Animal-Assisted Therapies

Kimmela is dedicated to evidence-based therapies for humans and animals. As such, we examine and publish methodological reviews about the validity of animal-assisted interventions and uses, such as dolphin assisted therapy, canine assisted therapy, and others.