BY DR. RAVINDER PALL SAINI,
INDIAN FOREST SERVICE ( RETIRED)
MEMBER, BOARD OF ADMINISTRATION,
FOREST RESEARCH UNIVERSITY,
DEHRADUN, 4 OCTOBER 2023:
“Like us, animals feel love, joy, fear, and pain, but they cannot grasp the spoken word. It is our obligation to speak on their behalf, ensuring their well-being and lives are respected and protected.”
……….Sylvia Dolson, Joy of Bears.
World Animal Day, at times indicated as World Animal Welfare Day or World Animal Protection Day, is an annual event that is celebrated around the world on October 4, the feast day of Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. It intends to celebrate animal rights and their essential welfare around the world. It brings together and mobilizes the animal protection movements into a global force to make the world a better place for all animals. This significant event reminds us of our duty to protect and care for the many species that share our world.
This year’ theme is “Great or Small, Love Them All”. The goal is to bring to light the value of all beings, great and small, and allow the opportunity for even the most overlooked animals to be appreciated for what and who they are. Animals play a critical role in preserving the fragile ecological balance of the earth.
ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF WORLD ANIMAL DAY:
World Animal Day was started by cynologist Heinrich Zimmermann. He organized the first World Animal Day on March 24, 1925, at the Sport Palace in Berlin, Germany. The event was then moved to October 4 for the first time in 1929 to align with the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology. 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 October 4 as World Animal Day universal was unanimously accepted and adopted as a resolution. Since 2003, World Animal Day has been coordinated by UK based animal welfare charity, Naturewatch Foundation with a new World Animal Day website launched for the 2023 celebration.
Methods to celebrate World Animal Day:
As an international event, World Animal Day is commemorated in different ways around the world. Some of the ways of celebrating are as follows:
- Generating awareness through educational events such as seminars and meetings at different forums.
- Events for adoption of stranded animals and raising shelters for stray animals.
- Fundraising events such as street concerts, sponsored walks and runs, putting up festoons with suggestive animal welfare measures.
- School, College, Institutions and University events to educate the younger generation through animal-related competitions, concerts, and films.
- Workshops with owners of working animal NGOs, organizations, groups etc.
- Arrangements of veterinary treatment and animal welfare awareness camps.
- Media interviews by imminent personalities and scientists to raise awareness of World Animal Day and its overall mission for animal care and conservation.
- Peaceful protest marches against cruelty towards animals.
World Animal Day also ensures that efforts are continued to be made to provide the animals with better rescue shelters, launch better animal welfare programs and raise necessary funds for their conservation projects.
Some Notable Instances of events held in recent years world over:
*A World Animal Day mass, held in Bolivia.
*Zoo enrichment activities in Alexandria, Egypt.
*Protests for the mistreatment of camels at a market in Cairo.
*A service of remembrance for a famous tiger in the United States.
*Action to save sea animals by ending plastic pollution in Bangladesh.
*A morning of animal-related arts and crafts exercises for children in Moscow.
Such events are often successful in drawing local and national media attention to the mistreatment of animals, which can be a catalyst for major change.
“Each species is a masterpiece, a creation assembled with extreme care and genius.”
World Animal Day Animals:
There is a deepening crisis facing animals around the world, awareness days like World Animal Day help to highlight animal welfare and protection as a priority issue of global importance. Some of the notable issues of concern with regards to very important animals are highlighted below:
Annually, 80 billion land animals, including chickens, pigs, and cows, are used for farming. It is estimated that 56 billion are trapped in food systems. (Source: World Animal Protection) This vast number does not even include the billions of aquatic animals who are locked in underwater factories, out of sight and very much out of mind.
On factory farms animals live in unnatural environments and endure needless and extreme psychological and physical suffering. Wild animals’ habitats are also destroyed to grow crops to feed billions of farmed animals. Factory farming is a global issue and only with a global solution can animals be safeguarded, and animal welfare improved.
There should be respect for these worthy animals and nature sits at the heart of our food system, which is equitable, sustainable, resilient, and capable of feeding the world.
For this a mass awareness generation needs to be initiated by all animal lovers and their welfare crusaders.
Whether engaged from the wild or bred in captivity, elephants are immensely exploited for entertaining can suffer through constant restraint on chains, lack of social interaction with other elephants, inadequate diet, and demanding or even damaging activities that lead to stress and health problems. An example of elephant exploitation for the tourism industry is elephant rides in parts of Africa and Asia.
The need for educating tourists, reducing demand for cruel entertainment, moving the travel industry to protect elephants, and promoting sustainable solutions are essential.
Elephants belong in the wild and efforts should be that they are not exploited unnecessarily. They need respect and compassion too.
Several tigers around the world are acquired and bred for profit. They are abused as exotic pets, in entertainment, and for traditional medicine. Instead of living free in their natural habitats, many captive tigers live lonely and miserable existences. This is even more heart-breaking to think of as wild tiger populations decline.
Tigers, like all wild animals, belong in the wild. Let’s educate the masses, work with travel corporations to end the exploitation of wild animals for entertainment, and lobby to end the global wildlife trade.
Whales and dolphins:
Unfortunately, there are currently around 3,000 whales and dolphins (Source: World Animal Protection) held captive in zoos, aquaria, or marine parks around the world.
They are often separated from their mothers too young, confined to tanks much smaller than their natural habitat, and can be deprived of food for training purposes, which causes them constant stress and suffering. They are miserable and endure a harsh reality in the name of entertainment, which can even lead to them expressing self- harming behaviours.
Thankfully, there are now NGOs, groups, and communities for conservation projects to protect whales and dolphins.
“Humankind must learn to understand that the life of an animal is in no way less precious than our own.” ……………Paul Oxton.