Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin invented humane livestock handling devices.

Temple Grandin
Dr. Temple Grandin of 'Temple Grandin' speaks during the HBO portion of the 2010 Television Critics Association Press Tour at the Langham Hotel on January 14, 2010 in Pasadena, California. Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Temple Grandin is a renowned animal scientist best known for inventing animal handling systems intended to ease the fear and pain of animals in meat plants. Diagnosed with autism as a child, she is also know for her advocacy for autistic people and their families.

Early Life and Autism

Temple Grandin was born on August 29, 1947, in Boston Massachusetts. As a child she was diagnosed with autism, a neurological condition that impairs verbal and social abilities.

She has spoken extensively about how her own experiences with anxiety and sensory overload have inspired her work with animals and her inventions meant to calm them before slaughter. 

As a child, Grandin visited her aunt's ranch, where she first saw the "squeeze chute" used to immobilize cattle. Knowing the calming effect that hugging and physical pressure had on her condition, she went home and created her own version of the squeeze chute. This would be the precursor to her "hug box," which is still used to calm anxious and autistic children.

She received her B.A. from Frankin Pierce College and her M.S. in Animal Science at Arizona State University. In 1989, Grandin earned a Ph.D. in Animal Science from the University of Illinois.

Temple Grandin, Inventor

Temple Grandin invented improvements to the animal handling systems found in meat plants that decreased or eliminated the fear and pain animals experienced.

According to her website, almost half of all cattle in North America are handled "in a center track restrainer system that she designed for meat plants." She also designed curved chute and race systems to calm cattle being led to slaughter. She's also written extensively on "flight zone and other principles of grazing animal behavior," which has helped farmers develop methods for handling animals.

Her inventions have decreased the rate of injuries among cattle, made the animals easier to handle, and even improved the performance and yield of both dairy cows and beef cattle.

Grandin's inventions and her advocacy for both animals and autism have made her a popular figure in pop culture. She has been the subject of numerous documentaries and books, and Claire Danes starred in an Emmy-Award-winning HBO movie based on her life.