At a time when reindeers are loading their sleds with tons of gifts in the imagination of millions of children, who cares about their working conditions? Underpaid seasonal workers? Uberized cervids, under the yoke of giants of the Net? This question of animal labor opens this second Free of animals, daily devoted, one day a year, to the news of these sentient beings who share our planet. Thirty pages to observe them, and to listen to the humans who love them, study them, protect them but also exploit them, hunt them, eat them (sometimes all this at the same time). And who make them work so.

For a dozen years, research in this area has multiplied. Because yes, animals work, to the extent that they invest their subjectivity in the task they perform. They can do more or less than what is asked of them. Take Kenny, 21, and Amelia, 8, two Breton milk cows, or Arnold, an old movie buff: if these beasts work, it's in exchange for paying attention to their "well-being". And on this issue, there is a big room for improvement. As proof our report to Burkina Fasso, where the skins of lions in the process of extinction are sold as trophies or gris-gris, our investigations at the port of Sète, from where cargo ships loaded with thousands of oxen and ewes , or on the traffic of young felines fallen from circuses and selfie flesh. Not to mention the cockfights, with the beautiful and cruel friendliness. Certainly, the animals still do not speak, despite the translation apps in "chatlangue" that we tested. They live in the present, but are endowed with emotions, as strong and subtle as ours, as the primatologist Frans de Waal explains to us after a lifetime of observing great apes. And it's not Nénette, our oldest portrait on the last page, who will tell you the opposite. So many stories that tell us about us, animals that we are. Between anthropomorphism and anthropodeni, there is therefore a path, a boulevard itself. For more "good-deal" with each, according to its place in the food chain, pending future releases. Because, as Bashung sings: "Only the dog remembers. Only the dog is waiting for us. Too bad he lives so little time. "

Matthieu Ecoiffier

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