World Animal Day

This October, countries across the globe will be doing what they can to celebrate animal life as part of World Animal Day.

Launched in 1931 as a way of highlighting the plight of endangered species, October 4 was chosen as the annual date for World Animal Day as it is the the Feast Day of St Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals.

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Since its UK launch in 2003, places of worship, schools, animal shelters and individuals have organised their own events to commemorate those animals we hold near and dear, as well as those that haven't fared so well.

Most of us are aware of the scarcity of tigers in the wild. Thanks to poaching and deforestation, scientists estimate that there are less than 3,000 of these beautiful big cats remaining outside zoos.

But other less well-known animals face an even less certain future.

It is thought that numbers of the white-headed Langur, a Vietnamese primate, may have fallen to as few as 60, while the Vaquita population, a species of porpoise once common to the Gulf of California, has been decimated by fishing nets (which have now been banned within the Vaquita's range) and just 150 remain.

World Animal Day helps to raise awareness not just of these endangered species but of animal welfare organisations and shelters closer to home.

But we as individuals can play our part too.

For instance, why not sponsor an animal or offer to help out with a local wildlife or conservation group? How about organising a fund-raiser of your own, donating the proceeds to your favourite animal charity?

Alternatively, a few extra tins of dog or cat food to donate to your local rehoming centre are always welcome and much-needed gift.

For more information about World Animal Day and more ideas on how you can help, visit