Celebrate our Amazing Planet with World Animal Day

Earth Day might be the oldest environmental holiday, but saving the planet takes more than one day per year. That’s why environmental activists have devised so many other collective actions to remind Homo sapiens to take care of our habitat. In our Celebrate our Amazing Planet series, your kids will learn about the challenges affecting our environment and how they can be part of the solution.

The Gist

Whether your kids have encountered animals through Bambi, The Lion King, and The Jungle Book, come face-to-face with koalas and slow lorises at the zoo, or snuggled with their very own puppy or bunny at home, chances are they love animals. What kid doesn’t? Lucky for you – there’s a holiday for that!

Celebrate the wonder that is furry, slithering, massive, cute, diverse animal life on World Animal Day (October 4). Since ecologists in Italy established the holiday in 1931, on the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi (the patron saint of animals), animals have finally gotten the holiday recognition they deserve – one in which they’re not the main course.

Although it’s not specifically tied to a charity or environmental organization, its original purpose was to highlight endangered species; today, participants get involved with all sorts of animals, wild and domestic, endangered and overpopulated, to celebrate the pleasure and creativity animals bring to our world.

The Day

Celebrating animals is easy. All you have to do is choose a focus. Whether it’s animal activism, endangered species awareness, domestic pet rescue, or just gathering with other animal-lovers at a farm, zoo, dog show, or horse race, there’s always something to do. Check out World Animal Day UK, which supplies information on tons of local events held all over the world.

Run a marathon or participate in a march or walk to raise money for animal rescue. Adopt an endangered species from the World Wildlife Fund by donating money and getting a bevy of information about the animal you choose. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, although a somewhat controversial organization, is a good resource for ideas about getting involved in activism too.

Learn a little more about your favorite furry or feathery friends by challenging your kids to find and compare animal facts. Read a Jane Goodall book or exchange WWF trading cards with different animals on them to start with. If you’ve got the time, check out your local zoo or farm to get some real time in with a zebra, giraffe, or tiger of your choice.

No exotic animals in your neighborhood? Create your own zoo. Let kids dress as the animals, and have your pets walk through the menagerie. Your kids will gain a whole new appreciation for the animals at the zoo!

Get a bit more local by donating cat or dog food to a local animal shelter to care for orphaned companions. If you’re lacking in the pet department, adopt a shelter pet for your kids. (Don’t forget to have your own pets spayed or neutered!)

Check with your kids’ school to see if it’s okay to bring a pet. This could get out of control faster than a bunny multiplies, so you might have to be the event organizer too. Set up an area where kids can walk dogs together. Create a “cat cafe” environment. Plan an after school show-and-tell where the kids and parents can meet each other’s animals before they leave school.

And since St. Francis of Assisi is the animal’s patron saint, ask your church if they have a “blessing of the animals” ceremony on the week of October 4. Many Episcopal and Catholic churches do – and if your church does not, maybe it’s time you started one!

After the Fact

Animals are with us every day, but for the people who make animals their life’s work, show your appreciation on another day. Next time you’re at the vet, have your kids bring a tray of cookies or chocolate to thank the doc for taking care of your sick animal. Make a weekly donation of pet food to your local animal shelter. Let your child lend a hand at the vet’s office or shelter to learn all about what it’s like to care for a pet.

If you’ve participated in an event this year, now is the time to start preparing for next year. How about researching and writing trivia questions for an animal quiz fundraiser or rallying local vets to set up a spay and neuter clinic? Get your kids thinking about how they can help, and then make an action plan leading up to the next World Animal Day so you stay on track!

The Long Run

World Animal Day’s mission is to “raise the status of animals to improve welfare standards around the world.” So treating animals well is the bottom line – whether they are on a farm, in the wild, or in your home. Make sure to talk to your kids about the difference between wild and domesticated animals, and how they can learn to treat both with care.

Want to know more about how animals survive in the wild? Make regular visits to a natural history museum or an ethical zoo in your city and learn how everything is connected. Make sure your kids know that the trees we plant, the environments we sustain, and the animals who survive in the wild and in our homes are all connected in the circle of life.

And if all else fails, just watch The Lion King… again.

What do you have planned this year for World Animal Day? Share your fun ideas with us!

Tags : celebrations   celebrate our amazing planet   green holidays   animal lovers   nature   world animal day   

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