Temple Grandin HBO Movie, Viewing Party Set for Saturday at Colorado State University

Colorado State University Animal Sciences Professor Temple Grandin will be on hand at 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6 when the HBO movie, “Temple Grandin”, starring noted actress Claire Danes, will debut in the Lory Student Center’s East Ballroom on the CSU campus.

A reception will follow the 6 p.m. live broadcast of the movie, and Grandin will be in attendance. Several of her books will be available for purchase. The event is free. No tickets will be issued. Seating is limited to the first 300 people. 

Grandin is a high-functioning autistic person who is a renowned designer of humane animal-handling facilities, work she’s primarily accomplished while a CSU faculty member. The movie depicts Grandin’s life as a child, during her high school years, and follows her during the 1970’s as she begins her career in her chosen field of food-animal welfare and designing equipment to help make their lives less stressful. The film delivers messages about autism and treating animals humanely.

“The film shows how my mind works – my sensitivity to visual stimuli and how I process information with visual images in my head,” said Grandin.

Grandin’s ability to see pictures in her head and her understanding that cows mainly experience their world as visual stimuli has enabled her to design livestock facilities that treat cattle more humanely.

“I think using animals for food is an ethical thing to do, but we’ve got to do it right,” Grandin said. “We’ve got to give those animals a decent life and we’ve got to give them a painless death. We owe the animal respect.”

Grandin has published several books on the humane treatment of animals and on a better understanding of autism. Her 1995 autobiography “Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism” is the basis for the HBO movie. She’s also the author of “Animals in Transition: Understanding the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior,” a New York Times best seller published in 2005, and last year’s “Animals Make Us Human”.

A professor in Colorado State’s Department of Animal Sciences, Grandin teaches courses on livestock behavior and facility design. She regularly consults with the livestock industry on design, livestock handling and animal welfare. Facilities she has designed are located around the United States, Canada, Europe, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and other countries around the world. In North America, almost half of the cattle are handled in a center track restrainer system that she designed for meat plants. Curved chute and race systems she has designed for cattle are used extensively throughout the livestock industry.

Grandin’s writings on the flight zone and other principals of grazing animal behavior have helped to reduce stress during animal handling. She developed an objective scoring system for assessing handling of cattle and pigs at meat plants. This scoring system is being used by many large corporations to improve animal welfare.

At the early stages of her career, Grandin wrote in her diary that, “I believe that the place where an animal dies is a sacred one. There is a need to bring ritual into the conventional slaughter plants and use it as a means to shape people’s behavior. It would help prevent people from becoming numbed, callous or cruel. The ritual could be something very simple, such as a moment of silence. In addition to developing better designs and making equipment to insure the human treatment of all animals, that would be my contribution. No words. Just one pure moment of silence. I can picture it perfectly.”