World Animal Day: Date
Observed on 4th October, every year.
World Animal Day (WAD) was originated by Heinrich Zimmermann. He organized the first World Animal Day on 24 March 1925 at the Sport Palace in Berlin, Germany. Over 5,000 people attended this first event. The event was originally scheduled for 4 October, to align with the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology, however the venue was not available on that day. The event was moved to 4 October for the first time in 1929. Initially he found a following only in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Czechoslovakia. Every year Zimmermann worked tirelessly on the promotion of World Animal Day. Finally, in May 1931 at a congress of the International Animal Protection Congress in Florence Italy, his proposal to make 4 October World Animal Day universal, was unanimously accepted and adopted as a resolution.
It is sometimes cited, incorrectly, that WAD started in 1931 at the convention of ecologists in Florence, Italy who wished to highlight the plight of endangered species.
Today, WAD is a global event uniting the animal protection movement, led and sponsored by UK-based animal welfare charity, Naturewatch Foundation since 2003.
Why Celebrate World Animal Day?
WAD is celebrated to create awareness among people regarding animals on the below aspects:
- To raise the status of animals and improve upon their welfare standards.
- Recognize animals as sentient beings and to respect their feelings.
Social movements where people are mobilized for a common cause have a history of achieving the intended goals, especially by spreading awareness and bringing about a change in people’s perspectives. Human and animals have been influencing each other even before the earliest human civilizations. The changes in the human way of life have a direct impact on the lives of animals due to the same ecosystems that we are a part of. Over a period of time, the rapid strides that human civilization has taken have resulted in causing detrimental effect on the lives of many animal species. Evolution of human thought has also contributed to an understanding that even animals are sentient beings and their welfare is also of paramount importance.
The day recognizes that each animal is a unique sentient being and therefore is eligible to receive social justice. This premise forms the basis for animal protection. This concept is important because based on this the conservation activities are not just restricted to endangered species, but to all the animals on earth, who might be in abundance, but each of them individually has a right for better life. Various human actions have lasting effects on the animal life, therefore it is important that we as humans need to own the responsibility to proactively work on improving the lives of the animals. World Animal day focuses on spreading the awareness to foster a feeling of compassion towards the animals and thereby work towards bringing a legislation which enables the world to be a better place for all the living things.
WAD aims to and has been successful in creating a global identity for the cause of Animal rights which has helped in providing support and recognition to various individuals and groups who have been engaged with this cause at a grass root level. This global brand for World animal day helps them to not only gain cognizance through the brand marketing and coverage in the media, but also get support for the activities through fund raising. The efforts have ensured to draw attention of local and main stream media, making the case a front news item. This attention and publicity helps in spreading across the message more rapidly to a larger audience.
The aim is to reach out to all the animal rights advocates around the world to connect them and join them in this larger initiative. This helps in synergizing the potential of these various activists and groups to leverage them onto a single platform, which works towards improving the status of animals globally.
How To Celebrate?
Various events are organized on WAD to spread the message. Individual animal activists, animal welfare organizations, animal enthusiasts, etc convene under the larger banner of World animal day and organize events. The types of events that are organized vary across different places. The spirit of the celebrations is to create a single purpose which is beyond any nationality, race or culture with concern and care for animal rights as the only focus.
The events that are organized on WAD include:
- Education and awareness campaigns & events.
- Workshops, conferences to discuss and to spread understanding of various animal related issues.
- Various fundraising events which includes concerts, shows etc.
- Spreading awareness among young children by conducting programs in schools.
- Opening of animal shelters.
- Events focused on animal adoption.
- Various workshops and programs target and different sets of people including adults, pet owners, working animal owners etc.
- Vaccination for rabies prevention drives.
- Special events at the veterinary setups which includes health checkups.
- Interviews and special shows on radio, television, podcasts etc to reach out to a larger audience with the message.
- Community gatherings with the animal welfare being the focus of discussions.
- Protests, rallies, etc to create awareness as well as to fight for the required legislation of animal rights.
The reach of the World Animal Day celebrations have seen a phenomenal increase over the last decade. In 2003, there were 44 events that were organized across thirteen countries, which have now reached to over 1000 events being organized across 100 countries. This has helped integrating the efforts across various platforms thereby enabling to extend the reach of the message. The World Animal Day campaign has helped in creating success across different countries offering an encouragement to activists in other countries to continue to put in their efforts.
World Animal Day in India
India has traditionally been a culture which has engrained the philosophy of ethical treatment of animals. An increased awareness through multiple forums has helped in organizing the events by various animal welfare organizations across the country.
- Animal welfare organization like Blue Cross has been observing World Animal day since 2009. There are many events that they conduct, which helps in spreading across the awareness of preventing animal cruelty.
- National media and regional media has taken cognizance of the event and run articles and special shows through their communication channels in print & TV. The reemergence of radio as a means of entertainment has also helped to spread the awareness about World Animal Day.
- Schools are the main focus where the World Animal Day events are being organized. These events have helped to take the message effectively to the young children.
WAD celebrations have been happening in Columbia since 2008. Thousands of enthusiastic volunteers get on the streets across various cities of Columbia to express their solidarity to the purpose of the World Animal Day. These rallies and events, which are conducted every year, have managed to gain the attention of the Columbian government and has expressed the intent to listen to the animal activists as well as understand the concerns being raised by them.
A municipal resolution was achieved in Columbia due to the efforts of the organization called AnimaNaturalis Columbia, which requires the Environment and civic culture secretariat to commemorate World Animal Day every year. This has helped in creating awareness among the citizens in regards to animal rights and ethical treatment of animals.
The World Animal Day celebrations every year have brought about a cultural change in the Middle Eastern nation of Lebanon. These events have managed to create an environment of love towards animals. Animal lovers across Lebanon have been conducting various events which not only profess their love towards the animals, but help in creating awareness among the public about the various animal issues.
Thanks to the efforts of animal rights and welfare organization in Lebanon, the government of Lebanon has passed a resolution as per which every year World Animal Day celebrations would be organized by the state administration.
Sudan along with other African countries has been celebrating the World Animal Day every year. The internal platform that is being created has helped in initiating many animal welfare related projects and for the successful continuation of them. The public at large is being made aware of the concerns relating to animal rights and able to create a sentiment of care and concern for them. The impact that World Animal Day celebrations has brought about on the government is a significant achievement.
The efforts of Animal welfare organizations of Sudan has helped in getting a legislation enacted in the parliament in regards to animal protection, The possibility of making this happen is mainly attributed to the awareness that was created through the World Animal Day events & campaigns.
The organization SPARE (Society for Protection of Animal Rights in Egypt) has been at the forefront of World Animal Day Celebrations in Egypt. Usage of animals for education and research has been one of the primary concerns that the animal activists world over have been campaigning under the premise of ethical treatment of animals. The awareness created by the World Animal Day events has helped the organization SPARE where the Faculty of Veterinary medicine of Cairo University has convened and discussed on alternatives to be used for medical research instead of the animals. This is a great achievement in the context that animals have always been used for testing and an effort towards finding alternatives could help in saving a lot of animals from the cruelty of medical research.
Another success of the organization SPARE in Egypt is the addition of the clause for Animal rights in the new changes of the Egyptian constitution. World Animal day events and propaganda was successfully used to lobby for these changes.
In the Himalayan country of Nepal, the Department of Livestock Services participates in the World Animal Day celebrations. The direct involvement of the government has helped in spreading the awareness of endangered species endemic to Nepal and also about issues relating to the ethical treatment of animals. It has further enabled the people to work together in sensitizing individuals and communities at large about the needs that the animals have and how they can take steps to make their lives comfortable. World Animal day acts as a milestone to continuously track the progress that is being made and analyze the changes taking place and is observed with great zeal in the country.
Suggestions for Celebrating:
There is much scope of spreading the awareness of the World Animal Day celebrations in India. There are many organizations who conduct their individual campaigns and celebrations on various occasions like World Environment Day, or Wild life day, etc but World Animal Day needs to find more traction in the country. Few things that can be implemented to spread the awareness of World Animal Day in India are:
- All the Animal Welfare organizations like Blue Cross, PAWS, Help Animals India and other need to make it a practice to celebrate World Animal Day ever year.
- Awareness campaigns and workshops can be conducted in the schools to help young children develop compassion for animals and also bring them up with an understanding of animal rights, their ethical treatment, etc. These workshops can include various activities like quizzes and skits.
- Pet adoption drives can be done on World Animal Day. This would help to reduce the commercial pet trade which is one of the major concerns in regards to ethical treatment of animals.
- The media needs to take proactive measures in publishing articles and conducting programs relating to animal welfare. Articles by animal experts in print media and interviews with them on television or radio leading to or on the day of the celebration will help in sending across the message effectively.
- Social media needs to be effectively used to run various campaigns which create awareness of the World Animal Day and lay emphasis on the purpose behind it.
WAD has been largely successful in creating awareness on the issues like cruelty on animals, ethical rights of animals, recognition of animals as sentient beings, etc. It has now morphed into a globally recognized brand, which has created the platform for many animal welfare activists and organizations to propagate various issues relating to animals not only to a larger set of people, but also more effectively. The coverage in various media about the WAD has helped to take the animal issues which rarely got attention to a news which is a part of the main news. Another important achievement of World Animal Day is the cognizance taken by the governments and law making bodies across various countries in regard to the Animal rights and various other issues concerning the ethical treatment of them. The law enactments which have been enforced and the power various organizations have got to be able to lobby with the government has been the effect of the awareness created by World Animal Day.
This platform needs to be leveraged for being in legislation which provide for Animal rights and also to encourage more governments to become active partners in organizing the events.