Yes, a tired old philosophical question but hey, that's my thing and it's sometimes interesting to rehearse it when you see things like this.
That heart-warming article + commentary came up just after I'd been having some dialogue with our old friend Sackers (in comments here) on Nietzsche's view of consciousness - "consciousness is a surface" - which can seem a bit odd without delving into it a bit.
Anyhow, Nietzsche (along with many others, of course) reckons that language sets us apart from animals, and that consciousness is born of the need to communicate. But unlike, say, Descartes, N sees it as a matter of degree and would, I think, allow animals consciousness in proportion to their ability to communicate.
Which leads us to a further question: can we understand them ? Wittgenstein says no. I disagree, provided that due scholarship is deployed and the easy traps of anthropomorphism are avoided.
Think on! And a good weekend to all.