In this article, we shall discuss the 30 smartest animals in the world. To skip our detailed analysis of the global pet industry and developments in animal care in 2023, go directly and see 10 Smartest Animals in the World.
Pet Industry: An Analysis
According to a report by Morgan Stanley, despite the fact that the pandemic exacerbated serious economic headwinds globally, the pet industry has seen a significant boost. More than 66% of households in the United States have at least one pet, with a national average of 1.7. Furthermore, more than 85% of pet owners strongly agree that their respective pet is an important member of the family. In this vein, the global pet industry, which is currently valued at more than $320 billion as of 2023, is well positioned to reach more than $500 billion by 2030, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence Report. Over the next decade, the report predicts that the pet industry is likely to see an annual growth of more than 8% with overall spending poised to increase rampantly by 134% within the next ten years. These impressive figures are largely driven by an increasing pet population, coupled with the premiumization of food and services, which in turn is a consequence of the continued humanization of some of the smartest animals in the world. You can read more about the global pet industry in 2023 in our article 20 Most Popular Pets in the US.
The report further highlights the fact that the United States is incredibly well-positioned to continue on its current trajectory and retain its position as the largest pet market in the world, with overall sales projected to approach more than $200 billion by 2030. Largely driven by an increase in pet-related healthcare, improved veterinary care, diagnostics, and pharmaceuticals have resulted in longer pet lifespans which demand highly priced elderly care for some of the smartest animals in the world. Other emerging markets are also likely to see improved growth largely due to an increase in nuclear families in urban areas, single-person households, and a drastic increase in per capita disposable income post the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the largest players in the global pet industry are Trupanion Inc. (NYSE:TRUP), Chewy Inc. (NYSE:CHWY), and Freshpet Inc. (NASDAQ:FRPT).
The Global Pet Industry: Key Trends
A March 2023 article by Forbes outlines some of the key trends likely to drive growth in the global pet industry in coming years, one of them being the rising popularity and incorporation of CBD (cannabidiol) products in pet diets. The shift in consumer sentiment with respect to CBD products has largely been driven by pet owners now looking for natural remedies, including tinctures, treats, and balms. With the market valued at about $195 million in 2022 and an estimated CAGR of 31.8%, the upsurge in CBD product sales continues to persevere. CBD products provide numerous benefits including a substantial anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety and pain-relieving potential. As this trend picks up, companies like Trupanion Inc. (NYSE:TRUP), Chewy Inc. (NYSE:CHWY), and Freshpet Inc. (NASDAQ:FRPT) are diverting enormous amounts of investments into CBD innovation.
The report also highlights that personalization in nutrition is another trend which is driving growth in the pet industry, especially as pet owners look for unique alternatives to maximize their pets’ wellbeing. Companies are ramping up investments in the development and manufacture of premium-quality, human-grade ingredients to curate pre-portioned meals which are then delivered directly to pet owners. Brands are also beginning to deliver customized meal plans based on the pet’s specific requirements, breeds, and dietary restrictions. Personalization and customization are expected to remain strong trends within the industry as pet owners continue to adopt some of the smartest animals in the world.
According to the article, more than 93% of consumers maintain that sustainability is incredibly important to them when selecting products for their pets. In line with human trends around plant-based diets and increased awareness with respect to the climate crisis, companies are diverting focus to developing sustainable, plant-based diets which are high in nutritional value. They are increasingly relying on insects, duckweed, and mushrooms as more climate-friendly alternatives.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019, the pet industry has been at the forefront of a technological shift. Products like smart collars, treat-dispensing cameras, and technologically-driven feeding systems allow pet owners to keep a track of their pets’ behavior from the convenience of their smartphones. Companies like Trupanion Inc. (NYSE:TRUP), Chewy Inc. (NYSE:CHWY), and Freshpet Inc. (NASDAQ:FRPT) are ramping up investments in pet tech to optimize pet healthcare and provide efficient and convenient solutions to their consumers. You can read more about developments in the pet industry in our article 11 Best Pet Stocks to Buy Now. As the pet industry shifts and evolves, new innovations will be coupled with hyper-targeted marketing strategies directed at specific customers. With ownership of the smartest animals in the world on the rise, companies are settling into an ideal positionality to capitalize on incoming tailwinds.
The Biotech Revolution in Animal Care: An Overview
According to a report by McKinsey, biotech will play a substantial role in minimizing the carbon footprint of the pet care industry and in doing so, will carve out a clear pathway to achieving net zero emissions. The report primarily focuses on the development of “white” biotechnology, which refers to the addition of enzymes, microbes, and other living cells to pet food or material used to ensure clean water in aquaculture. The incorporation of biotechnology in the production of pet food is proving to be an incredibly efficient endeavor, leading to higher yields of ingredients. It is also expected to reduce the industry’s reliance on antibiotics. Novozymes A/S (CPH:NZYM-B) is leading much of the innovation in biotechnology within the animal care industry through the production of a medication which will likely reduce the use of antibiotics when treating birds.
The report highlights preconditions which need to be satisfied in order to create a collaborative ecosystem within which pet companies like Trupanion Inc. (NYSE:TRUP), Chewy Inc. (NYSE:CHWY), and Freshpet Inc. (NASDAQ:FRPT) can compete and develop effective biotech solutions for pet owners and some of the smartest animals in the world across markets. To collaborate efficiently, companies must ensure an aligned strategy and a desire to outline and achieve common objectives within a designated timeframe. Furthermore, companies must also strive to develop the skills, business models, and geographic elements required to complement each other’s efforts and create long-lasting synergies.
To compile our list of the 30 smartest animals in the world, we decided to undertake a consensus-based approach using a diverse variety of credible sources and research which studied animal cognition and intelligence (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). We then shortlisted more than 50 animals which appeared most frequently during our research. Since intelligence is an incredibly multifaceted and complex phenomenon, we established a three-pronged criteria to measure the intelligence of each animal; the criteria is premised on each animal’s social behavior (20 points), adaptability (15 points), and memory (10 points). We then proceeded to award each animal a cumulative score according to the aforementioned criteria and selected 30 animals which scored the highest points. Subsequently, we ranked each entry based on the total points scored, from lowest to highest. Where there was a tie, we broke it based on the complexity and maturity of the animal’s social behavior.
Many of the animals covered in this list also appear during our coverage of the 25 Most Dangerous Animals in the World.
30 Smartest Animals in the World
Total Score: 16
Hyenas operate in large social groups and are able to differentiate between the calls of each member of the group. Their social group is mainly led by a female and consists of around 100 hyenas.
Total Score: 16
Squids are known to be the smartest invertebrates in the world. Their brain structure is similar to that of humans and they have the ability to learn new skills quickly and demonstrate curiosity about their environment.
Total Score: 17
Baboons’ cognitive skills are similar to that of chimpanzees and orangutans. Some studies show that baboons have the ability to identify and cope with stress, as well as find solutions to difficult situations.
Total Score: 18
Monkeys are exceptionally good at problem-solving and have the ability to understand the concept of weights and different materials. They also tend to execute well-planned attacks in groups and hence, make our list of the smartest animals in the world.
Total Score: 18
Deer are very intelligent, contrary to common belief. They are known to have risk assessment skills, diverse personality orientations, and are able to carry out behavior modification when necessary.
Total Score: 19
Wolves are known for their teamwork. A sign of their intelligence is that they work in groups with coordination and strategy to ensure the survival of the group.
Total Score: 20
Ants are one of the smartest animals in the world because of their ability to work as within a coordinated colony, led by a queen. Ants have a predetermined way of doing things and the system works in an organized manner.
Total Score: 20
Giraffes are highly intelligent animals as they are able to adapt to the external environment rapidly. In recent studies, it was shown that giraffes also have the ability to demonstrate statistical reasoning.
Total Score: 21
Raccoons are known to be very intelligent because of their ability to use complex tools and skills to solve difficult situations. They also have different IQs and are capable of solving complex puzzles.
Total Score: 22
Spiders are known to be the smallest creatures to show high levels of intelligence. They have the ability to plan ahead and recall information when needed. Spiders also demonstrate special learning skills and are one of the smartest animals in the world.
20. Sea Lions
Total Score: 22
Sea lions are smart animals as they have the ability to think logically. They are known to have extraordinary short-term memory and are also able to learn new skills and apply them.
19. Honey Bees
Total Score: 24
Honey bees are highly intelligent insects as they have the ability to demonstrate complex social behaviors, understand abstract concepts, and remember landmarks and human faces.
Total Score: 25
Orangutans are known to be very good at imitating human actions. Recent studies show that they have the ability to use and construct various tools like saws and hammers.
Total Score: 25
Pigeons are known to be intelligent because of their impressive memory skills. They have the ability to remember people and places throughout their life.
Total Score: 26
Rats are highly intelligent animals and are often used for research because of their ability to quickly learn new concepts. It is known that rats demonstrate great memory skills and learn from experience, causing them to make our list of the smartest animals in the world.
Total Score: 29
Squirrels’ high intelligence revolves mainly around gathering and hiding food. Their exceptional memory skills allow them to remember where they store food. They also tend to learn by observation.
Total Score: 31
Orcas are the second-most intelligent animals in the ocean because of their large brain size, ability to process and understand complex emotions, and their ability to use echolocation.
Total Score: 32
Bonobos are highly empathetic animals and are shown to perform tasks to get a treat for a fellow bonobo. They also tend to show empathy towards strangers.
Total Score: 32
During multiple peer-reviewed studies, ravens have demonstrated high levels of intelligence. They have extraordinary planning skills and are able to solve complex puzzles.
Total Score: 34
Cats are generally not perceived as smart animals. However, studies have shown them to demonstrate highly intelligent traits as they depend highly on smell and form bonds using smell. They are also skilled at hunting. Cats are number 11 on our list of the 30 smartest animals in the world.
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Disclosure: None. 30 Smartest Animals in the World is originally published on Insider Monkey.