International Working Animal Day 2021

What is International Working Animal Day?

SPANA’s sixth annual International Working Animal Day, taking place on 15 June 2021, is raising awareness about the essential role working animals carry out transporting water and producing food in developing countries around the world.

Working animals – such as horses, donkeys, camels and elephants – play a vital role in the world’s poorest communities, ploughing fields and delivering food and water. More than 200 million working animals support the livelihoods of at least 600 million people worldwide.

But water and adequate nutrition are fundamental requirements for working animals too. In extreme temperatures and hard conditions, water can be scarce and poverty-stricken families often struggle to provide the food their animals need.

In addition to providing free veterinary care, SPANA is ensuring that many working animals have access to clean water and food through a wide range of projects across the world. The charity is building and filling water troughs, carrying out emergency feeding programmes for malnourished animals in crisis situations, and educating owners about their animals’ dietary needs.

SPANA believes that these hardworking animals deserve greater respect and recognition. And, more importantly, they need our help.

Did you know...?

One working animal can help put food on the table for up to 30 people 

70,000 working donkeys transport water in Mauritania’s capital, Nouakchott, where many people have no direct access to it.

Equines provide a lifeline for 85% of Ethiopians in rural areas, who depend on subsistence farming to survive 

Agriculture is the main source of livelihood for 2.5 billion people and working animals provide a key source of power for both production and distribution 

SPANA distributed 267,197kg of emergency feed to starving animals affected by the Covid-19 crisis in 2020 

SPANA built a network of water troughs across Marrakech and refills these every day to provide fresh, clean water for working animals 


Who’s supporting the campaign?

Paul O’Grady MBE, Ambassador for SPANA, said:

‘Horses, donkeys, camels and other working animals work so hard, pulling carts to provide food and water for their owners in some of the world’s poorest places. They are immensely important.

‘But the work of these heroic animals is only possible when they too are able to drink clean water and have access to food to keep them healthy and strong. I’m asking you to join me in getting behind SPANA’s International Working Animal Day to ensure that the massive contribution of working animals is recognised and that their basic needs are met. Every animal should have the food, water and veterinary care they need.’

Brian Blessed OBE, Ambassador for SPANA, said:

‘For many people in the world’s poorest communities, collecting water from the nearest river or well would be an almost impossible task without their working animals. And by ploughing fields, these animals make it possible for families living in extreme poverty to produce enough food to survive.

‘These animals are valuable beyond measure, but their lives are often incredibly hard, lacking food, water and the care they deserve. They do so much for so many people, and it’s enormously important that we look after them.

‘On International Working Animal Day, please show support for working animals everywhere and help SPANA to give them a better life.’

Peter Egan, Ambassador for SPANA, said:

‘Through their relentless hard work, working animals ensure that millions of families in the world’s poorest communities have a means of putting food on the table. But, thankfully, SPANA is there to ensure that the health, wellbeing and essential needs of these animals are also being looked after.

‘The charity’s veterinary teams are preventing suffering for sick and injured animals, while its water projects are providing a constant, fresh supply for thirsty animals and those whose lives are threatened by severe drought and water shortages. SPANA’s community training projects are also making a huge difference – equipping owners with the knowledge they need to make sure their animals are receiving the right food and proper nutrition.

‘On International Working Animal Day, I’ll be showing my support for these incredible animals and the SPANA teams who care for them every single day – please join me.’

Dr James Greenwood, Ambassador for SPANA, said:

‘I have seen first-hand how valuable SPANA’s work is to working animals all over the world – including ensuring that so many animals have the most fundamental of requirements: food and drink.

‘SPANA’s provision of water troughs is absolutely vital for animals working in sweltering climates. And the charity’s care and feeding programmes – particularly throughout the Covid-19 crisis – are quite literally lifesaving, ensuring the survival of countless starving animals.

‘Please join me in supporting International Working Animal Day, and help raise awareness of the crucial role played by working animals worldwide, and SPANA’s work to improve their lives.’

Marc Abraham OBE, Ambassador for SPANA, said:

‘Working animals make an incredible contribution in many developing countries, and millions of families would struggle to survive without them. Thankfully, SPANA is there for thousands of these animals across the world – ensuring that they receive the treatment and care they need. 

‘Without the charity and its dedicated teams, so many animals would be facing unnecessary pain, suffering, hunger, and hardship, which is why SPANA’s work is so very important.

‘This International Working Animal Day, please give your backing to SPANA, and help make a lifesaving difference to these remarkable animals.’

Deborah Meaden said:

‘Working animals are relied upon by people around the world. By transporting water, these animals provide a lifeline to communities in the poorest countries – ensuring people’s survival through their unrelenting toil. 

‘Water is of course universally regarded as a precious and essential commodity. It’s about time that the value of these priceless working animals is also recognised. This forgotten workforce of 200 million animals supports more than half a billion people worldwide, but they often endure short, painful lives in terrible conditions. Rarely do they receive the water, food and veterinary care they desperately need. This has to change.’

Join SPANA ambassador Jim Broadbent in celebrating this year's International Working Animal Day

Show your support for working animals

Help ease the suffering of working animals by becoming a Stable Sponsor. Our stables provide a safe place for respite for thousands of working animals, find out how your generosity can help provide expert veterinary treatment, essential medicines, nutritious food and much-needed rest for sick and injured animals around the world – Donate today!

Discover more ways to get involved with helping working animals

Keera the water donkey’s harness wounds

Keera the donkey was suffering from nasty wounds caused by a problem with the water cart she pulls and needed immediate help from SPANA vets...

Carriage horses waiting in a line

Ethical Animal Tourism

Our Holiday Hooves Guide contains advice on how to choose healthy looking animals for activities abroad.

Keera the water donkey’s harness wounds

Keera the donkey was suffering from nasty wounds caused by a problem with the water cart she pulls and needed immediate help from SPANA vets...

Carriage horses waiting in a line

Ethical Animal Tourism

Our Holiday Hooves Guide contains advice on how to choose healthy looking animals for activities abroad.