In 1931, ecologists at a convention in Florence, Italy established World Animal Day to recognize and bring attention to endangered animal species. They selected Oct. 4 as the date for this commemoration to coincide with the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.
At least one horse joined a menagerie that included dogs, llamas and a kangaroo for the blessing of the animals at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York last year.
World Animal Day commemorations are celebrated by people from all countries, cultures and religions. In the U.S., the day is frequently highlighted by adoption events at animal shelters and horse rescues. The dedication to working toward the welfare of all animals is a hallmark of the day.
The mission of World Animal Day is to:
- celebrate animal life in all its forms;
- celebrate humankind’s relationship with the animal kingdom;
- acknowledge the diverse roles that animals play in our lives – from being our companions, supporting and helping us, to bringing a sense of wonder into our lives; and
- acknowledge and be thankful for the way in which animals enrich our lives.