I think we can value animals for what they are in themselves, but that doesn't mean that their mental capacity can be compared to humans. The animal intelligence is mysterious and wonderful, and perhaps more complex than we believe, but I don't think dolphins and whales are more intelligent than, say, monkeys.
I'm for animal rights, but I still don't think that animals ought to be treated as being on the same level as humans. We don't help animals by pretending they are something which they aren't. We ought to value them for what they are.
Eat Your Vegetables