For many people who care about animals, World Animal Day, 4 October, is already a very important day each year. For those people who haven’t yet participated, I’d like to tell you more about what this global movement can achieve for animals and encourage you to get involved.
What is World Animal Day?
World Animal Day is a social movement charged with the Mission of raising the status of animals in order to improve welfare standards around the globe. To achieve this, we encourage animal welfare organisations, community groups, youth and children’s clubs, businesses and individuals to organise events in celebration of World Animal Day to draw attention to animal issues and make them front page news – a vital catalyst for change.
What is the history of World Animal Day?
World Animal Day isn’t a recent addition to the calendar. It was started in 1931 at a convention of ecologists in Florence, Italy, as a way of highlighting the plight of endangered species. It takes place annually on 4 October, chosen as it is the feast day of St Francis of Assisi.
In 2003, Naturewatch Foundation launched the first World Animal Day website which mainly focused upon the UK. As Naturewatch Foundation is only a small charity and financial support for World Animal Day has always been extremely limited, identifying cost-effective ways to progress this powerful movement is key to ensuring it reaches its full potential.
In 2007, I welcomed the opportunity to take over the initiative as I recognised the huge potential it held in making a real difference for animals if it was established as a powerful central platform. The first thing I did was take World Animal Day global by launching the Ambassador programme and began enlisting the help and support of Ambassadors around the world. Today we have 89 Ambassadors raising awareness of, and encouraging participation in, World Animal Day in 76 countries around the globe.
Why celebrate World Animal Day?
Throughout history, social movements like World Animal Day have always been a major vehicle for ordinary people’s participation in politics, and key in fighting for social justice and reform. Around the world there have been many successful social movements that challenged injustice and promoted democracy, with ground-breaking laws being passed in response.
This shows that social movements can work when enough momentum and support has been built up. As with all mass actions, the animal welfare movement is made up of members of large organisations, small groups or individuals and the people involved are from all walks of life. People who have made the decision to use their time, talents and resources to help make the world a better place for animals, the people who care for them and the wider communities in which they live.
The lives of animals are profoundly affected by the actions of individuals, businesses and nations. It’s therefore essential that, as sentient beings, their rightful status as recipients of social justice is established and translated into effective animal protection. There is no doubt that increased awareness of animal issues via the availability of accurate information, combined with better education for both adults and children, is helping to develop a compassionate culture which is slowly feeding into legal reform and social progress.
As you will know, there are other days linked to animals such as World Farm Animals Day, World Day for Laboratory Animals, World Wildlife Day, etc., and these are important too. However, World Animal Day is the one day of the year that embraces all animals and the unique concerns of each, in every country.
In celebration of World Animal Day, a huge variety of inspiring events are held each year in an increasing number of countries, with no regard to nationality, religion, faith or political ideology. Events are organised under the World Animal Day umbrella by being publicised on www.worldanimalday.org.uk and advertised using the World Animal Day brand and logo. World Animal Day successfully unites the animal welfare movement, mobilising it into a global force for change.
We regularly receive heart-warming emails from people keen to tell us about what being involved with World Animal Day has helped them achieve. We’d like to share a few of these phenomenal victories with you now.
- Amina Abaza, who heads the Society for the Protection of Animal Rights in Egypt (SPARE), has used World Animal Day to successfully lobby for the addition of a clause about animal welfare in the new Egyptian Constitution.
- Another ground-breaking event achieved by SPARE was held at Cairo University’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine where animals are used in education. Attended by professors, students, the Dean and Vice Dean of the Faculty, and other dignitaries, speeches were made by the President of the Egyptian Veterinary Association and representatives of several, highly-respected animal welfare NGOs to increase awareness about alternatives to the use of animals in education and a film was shown about animal suffering throughout the world.
- Both Animals Lebanon and AnimaNaturalis Colombia have achieved a Municipal Resolution that requires the Secretariats of the Environment and Civic Culture to commemorate World Animal Day each year, which is helping tremendously to raise awareness among citizens about the ethical treatment of animals.
- The Sudanese Animal Care & Environmental Organisation’s greatest achievement is the introduction of animal protection legislation by the Sudanese parliament. Much of the work to achieve this magnificent goal is attributed to increased awareness of animal welfare issues brought about by World Animal Day. NEPAL - KHAGESHWAAR SHARMA
- The Himalayan Animal Rescue Trust (HART) is delighted that World Animal Day is now being celebrated by government institutions in Nepal, such as the District Livestock Services Office. Khageshwaar Sharma, our Ambassador in Nepal says: World Animal Day events encourage people to work together to sensitise communities, making them aware of the needs of animals they live among, and also of how they can improve their lives. Creating an outlook that respects all animals is a slow process and World Animal Day acts as an annual marker to measure progress.”
World Animal Day has already brought about a significant and lasting contribution towards advancing animal welfare standards, and its influence will only continue to grow.
Stand with us united for animal welfare!