“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Mahatma Gandhi
October 4 is the Feast Day of Saint Francis, renowned for his love of animals. In 1931, a group of ecologists meeting in Florence, Italy, chose this date as World Animal Day to highlight the plight of endangered species. Since then it has grown to a world wide day of celebration of animals by people who love them in all nations and religious traditions.
The Singapore SPCA held a three day celebration in September, with a theme of “Friends for Life.” The Moscow Zoo is holding its celebration of Saturday. World Animal Day celebrations are scheduled in Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Dubai, France, Britain, Sweden, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the US, Canada, Serbia, Greece, Bolivia, Chile, Australia, the Ukraine, Palestine, Gambia – and these were just locations listed on a single website.
A revered Tibetan Buddhist teacher, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, urges his students to pray for the wellbeing of animals on October 4, and recite mantras to bring them auspicious rebirths. If one is looking for a pet, he says, it’s a perfect day to visit a shelter and adopt, or adopt an animal via a contribution to an organization that benefits them.
Friday is a wonderful day to notice and appreciate the birdsong in the morning, the hawk in the noontime sky, and the creatures who bring so much to our lives. What would our world be like without them?