Two boys use their family donkeys to collect water in Zimbabwe.

On October 4th, animal lovers around the world will unite to speak up for those who have no voice, calling for improved standards for animal welfare. If you were wondering what is World Animal Day, read more about it and how SPANA will be marking the occasion.

World Animal Day is an annual opportunity for organisations and individuals to unite under one banner and make animal welfare a top priority across the globe. However the idea of World Animal Day is not a new one, originating more than 80 years ago in Florence, Italy. It was there in 1931 that a convention of ecologists met to brainstorm ways to raise public awareness about the growing plight of endangered species. The ecologists knew that something had to be done to start a global conversation on growing threats to both domestic and wild animal welfare and chose October 4th as the inaugural date. Corresponding with the Catholic celebration of the Feast Day of Francis Assisi, patron saint of animals and the environment, the group realised that they could build on traditional links to promote this message of animal welfare awareness and demonstrate an appreciation for the relationship between humankind and the animal kingdom.

A SPANA vet gives Zrika's owner a new bit Today, for World Animal Day, thousands of animal welfare organisations, youth clubs, businesses, community groups, and individuals come together to raise awareness for their work and fundraise in support of causes ranging from care of working animals to conservation of endangered tigers and habitat loss.

During this unifying day, organisations and supporters can connect, share information and experiences, and further expand awareness. In 2007 World Animal Day launched its Ambassador programme, which seeks to appoint an animal welfare ambassador in each country and is continuing to build its pool of representatives. Countless celebrities including actors, poets, artists, models, and musicians have pledged their support and build awareness among their fans through social media and public appearances.

Getting involved is easy – offers resources such as posters, links to their social media, and a Global Diary of Annual Events. The site also provides a Model Animal Welfare Act incorporating best practice in the field and offering an example template, offering a framework for advocates to bring to their local government. It’s easy for organisations, no matter their size, to take advantage of awareness and engagement during this day and harness the power of social media to spread their message.

A SPANA Ethiopia vet listens to a horse's breathingTo date, an estimated 1000 events take place in more than 11 countries around the world and SPANA is delighted to be joining in this day of celebration and awareness raising. SPANA will be marking the day with a call to support our ongoing work providing veterinary care to working animals and education to their owners across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. We call on supporters of SPANA and World Animal Day to unite to put an end to the suffering of working horses, donkeys, mules, camels, and elephants: because a life of work needn’t mean a life of pain. Learn more about the work that we do and how you can help.

Take time to add World Animal Day to your list of things to celebrate in October and join a growing international movement that seeks to build a brighter future for animals everywhere.

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