Eighty years ago a group of ecologists in Florence initiated World Animal Day. Ever since that gathering it’s been celebrated on October 4th, the feast day of Francis of Assisi. But World Animal Day goes well beyond the recognition of the Catholic Church. It’s a celebration of animals and our relationship with them that includes millions of people, irrespective of thei r religion, nationality and politics.

You don’t have to be an animal lover to appreciate what other creatures do for us and how they enrich our lives in dozens of ways. Those of us who have much loved pets know exactly how much poorer our existence would be without their love, companionship and wonderful ways. And, of course, animals provide us with so much more besides.

World Animal Day is an occasion for everyone who has an interest in animal welfare to promote the importance of the humane treatment of animals – in our homes, on our farms and in their natural habitats. In the world of today, action for animals in the wild is a more pressing concern than ever before, and a vital element of campaigns for saving the environment.

Everybody knows now that all life is interconnected in a complex but fragile web of relationships. We also know that the stability of our global ecology is threatened as never before. Animals are relentlessly and often cruelly exploited for profit and entertainment. Industry and factory farming are major culprits in the environmental and atmospheric pollution that leads to habitat destruction and species extinctions.

From the Arctic to the Amazon to our own back yards, the future of many animal species is hanging in the balance. Human behavior, along with population growth, is threatening the existence of species ranging from the mighty polar bear and majestic tiger to the humble honey bee. World Animal Day is a day for us to remember how fragile our planet is, and how vital it is that we all do our bit for saving the environment. Ethical consumer behavior and greener lifestyles can help save animals in habitats threatened by uncontrolled logging, the expansion of farming and mining and other industrial activities.

This World Animal Day on October 4th offers plenty of opportunities to go the extra mile if you’re already involved with animal welfare issues or a chance to get involved in something special if you’re a newbie. It’s a great day for parents and teachers to grow awareness in children and young people of how important all animals, big and small, really are, and why their environments need to be conserved. For pet lovers, it could be a day for joining up with other volunteers in activities for a local pet rescue center. The key thing is to do something, because we’re animals too, and without initiatives saving the environment, we too are ultimately in danger.

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