World Animal Day is celebrated in all corners of the world, from the United States, to Sudan, to Nepal. The first World Animal Day was organized in 1925 by a man named Heinrich Zimmermann to promote the protection of all animals, domestic or wild. The mission today is to “raise the status of animals in order to improve welfare standards around the globe.” With looming statistics around species loss highlighting what has been termed “the Sixth Great Extinction,” endangered protections (like the Endangered Species Act) under threat, and animals still suffering under poor conditions of treatment, today is a day to do something positive for the rest of the animal kingdom!
Zimmermann, a writer and publisher of Mensch und Hund (Man and Dog) magazine, was born in Germany and was a passionate animal rights advocate. Zimmermann chose the date of October 4th as it is the day of the Christian Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and ecology. In 1925, Zimmermann organized the first World Animal Day event at the Sport Palace in Berlin, which was attended by over 5,000 people! Such participation is a great indicator of how people can come together to act on behalf of animal welfare, though there are challenges.
Through the centuries, humans have compromised animal welfare and species protection for a number of reasons. Whether it be destroying natural habitats for new buildings or agriculture, or testing chemicals on animals to determine whether the substance is safe for human use, humans have rarely prioritized animals. Species such as the orangutan are losing their habitat due to rapid palm oil farming in an effort to fulfill the demands of consumers. The wild chimpanzee, one animal closest to our hearts, is the victim of habitat loss due to development and logging along with poaching for the illegal bushmeat and pet trade. The purpose of World Animal Day is to bring these issues to light and to provide effective protection for species worldwide.
To demonstrate what we can each do to stand up for animals, people from virtually every country have showcased their animal advocacy creativity. Some people orchestrate educational workshops for pet owners, while others may organize fundraisers at their school. Groups have also been known to hold peaceful protests in the name of animal welfare legislation. In Egypt, a woman named Amina Abaza joined the observance of World Animal Day by successfully lobbying for an animal welfare clause to be added to the Egyptian constitution.
Members of Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots have been actively leading animal welfare projects as well. For example, one group in the United States formed a wildlife awareness club at their school to make positive changes for animals through fundraising, petitioning, and volunteering. Another member in India is using the power of social media to raise awareness about the importance of animal protection!
So what can you do? Here are 5 ways YOU can participate in World Animal Day:
Attend local events
Check out the events page on the World Animal Day website and search your local news publications for celebrations taking place near you. Who knows, you might even stumble across a place you didn’t know existed!
Join Roots & Shoots
Roots & Shoots + youth = positive change. Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots provides resources for young people to lead successful community campaigns in three cause areas: people, animals, and the environment. You can take action now by participating in a new 1-Click campaign to protect the Endangered Species Act to help save animals: One Act For All.
Utilize the power of social media
Social media is one of Dr. Jane’s famed five reasons for hope because of it’s ability to reach millions of people around the globe. This World Animal Day, read Dr. Jane’s story about social media and take to your favorite platforms to talk about animal protection using the hashtag #WorldAnimalDay.
Click to tweet: I’m standing up for fellow #animals for #WorldAnimalDay. Find out ways you can too: http://bit.ly/2xhqRft @rootsandshoots @janegoodallinst
Audrey Hepburn once said, “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands — one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” You can put your helping hand to use this week by volunteering at a local animal shelter or animal welfare event!
These days, making a donation is easy as 1,2,3 thanks to modern technology. This week, consider making a donation to some organizations that help protect animals! The Jane Goodall Institute has been protecting chimpanzees and working to advocate for animals for 40 years → donate here. You can also make a direct donation to World Animal Day here.
Celebrate All Year Long
Celebrating World Animal Day doesn’t have to stop after October 4th. Make every day World Animal Day! All of the actions listed above can be celebrated on any day of the year. Let’s join together to make animal welfare a priority every day of the year.
The Jane Goodall Institute is a global community conservation organization that advances the vision and work of Dr. Jane Goodall. By protecting chimpanzees and inspiring people to conserve the natural world we all share, we improve the lives of people, animals and the environment. Everything is connected—everyone can make a difference.