Does a sheep have the right to be old?

27 Nov
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This is Phyllis. She is a 13-year-old Southdown Sheep. Average life expectancy of sheep: 10-12 years.

Perhaps we don’t give much thought to the possible age livestock could reach because we are used to it being functional and not living long. Take sheep, for example: Humans keep sheep for wool, dairy and meat. Sheep meat is mostly lamb, i.e. the sheep does not reach an age of one year (mutton is from sheep older than one year). There are life spans reported of up to 20 years, depending on the breed. Either way Phyllis here is a granny sheep. If you want to know more about sheep there are two info-rich sites here and here.

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This is Violet. She is a pot-bellied pig of 12 years. Average lifespan: 12-15 years.

We might give thought to the age our pets can reach, and we might experience an elderly animal if we have them at home. But we seem to apply the same youth-cult to domestic animals as we do to ourselves. The internetworld is full of kittens and puppies. However, in 2008 there was an advertising campaign created for Florette, a salad company, that featured ancient animals, content that you had forgotten all about the meat, as the claim went. You can see the visuals and read up on the credits here.

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This is an Embden Goose, aged 28 years. Reported life expectancy: 20-25 years, maybe 30.

These photos are part of a series called Elderly Animals by photographer Isa Leshko. You can see the full set of photos over at her site here and watch a short film on how she went about getting the portraits here. This must be a November-entry… black-and-white, old age and death.

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