World Animal Day – 4 October 2018

What did the Bison say when his son left for College?

“Bison.”

World Animal Day is on Thursday 4 October 2018. It is important to recognise our furry friends of the animal kingdom, and World Animal Day is all about raising awareness to improve animal welfare standards across the world. 

World Animal Day was a concept originating with German writer and publisher Heinrich Zimmermann. He coordinated the first World Animal Day event in Berlin on 24 March 1925, and held it in the Sport Palace (Berlin Sportpalast) where over 5,000 people attended. Aside: Incidentally, the Berlin Sportspalast later proved a popular venue for party rallies and speeches during the rise of the Third Reich. 

Four years later, in 1929, World Animal Day migrated to its current date of 4 October. Whilst involvement was initially limited to Germany, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia and Austria, Zimmermann lobbied hard to have World Animal Day recognised universally. In 1931 he achieved this goal when his proposal was unanimously accepted at a congress of the world’s animal protection organisations in Italy, and World Animal Day became recognised globally as it is today.  

What is the significance of 4 October? This is the day of Francis of Assisi, the patron Saint of ecology. Two days before my birthday too, just in case husband is reading this (lol) and wants a birthday gift idea

Endangered Species

Endangered species are those plants or animals considered to be at risk of extinction. Contributing factors include loss of habitat (e.g. through deforestation), hunting, poaching, disease and climate change. 

The critically endangered Gorilla (photo not of real thing). Bosca by Chris Meder Ellerslie International Flower Show 2010. Flickr CCL-CHCH-2010-03-09-DSC-02997.

At present, critically endangered species include: 

  • Black Rhinoceros – which is in fact grey, and has been poached to the point of near decimation. The black rhinoceros is sought after for its horn, which is used in traditional Chinese medicine and in the making of traditional dagger handles in Yemen. 
  • Both the Eastern and Western Gorilla – the largest of the apes. The decline of the Western Gorilla is attributable to loss of habitat through deforestation and the Ebola virus, which wiped out a third of their population between 1992-2007. Eastern Gorillas – situated in the Virunga Volcanoes region, the Democratic Republic of Congo and parts of Uganda – face the poaching of their young, and are often caught in the crossfire of armed conflict occurring in and around their habitat. 
  • The Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat of Australia. One of the worlds rarest critters, these wombats declined due to drought and the introduction of livestock, decreasing their access to food. Recovery plans are in place, but the plight of the animal is grave. 
  • Red Wolf – The red wolf roams the USA, and is threatened by loss of habitat due to agriculture, and being hunted to near extinction.  

Sadly, this is merely the tip of the iceberg, and many of the world’s beautiful and exotic creatures are in imminent danger of slipping away forever. Just to think that in my lifetime we may bid adieu to the majestic tiger, is a terrible thought. And it’s not only animals who are heading for extinction, many of the earth’s plants, algae and fungi are also disappearing. 

You can find information on the status of any animal on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and Arkive also has some in depth coverage on conservation issues and the endangered species of plants and animals. 

Quick Animal Facts

On a lighter note, here are some rather riveting animal facts in honour of World Animal Day:

  • An elephant creates around a tonne of poo every week. No more said. 
  • Caterpillars have 12 eyes. That’s four more than a spider. How creepy of them. 
  • Mosquitoes are attracted to feet that smell. Explains a lot. 

Explore more fun facts on National Geographic Kids

Animal eResources: Students & Adults

Find out all you need to know about animals and the natural world through Christchurch City Libraries’ impressive selection of eResources. Here are just a few, click on the links to find out all about your favourite animals ūüôā :

National Geographic Virtual Library & Britannica Library for Adults
Here you will find in-depth reference material, articles, photos and books on animals.

NZ Geo TV
NZ Geo TV contains documentaries on the natural world –  New Zealand and global.

Student Resources in Context
Focused reference material and images targeted at students.

Smithsonian Global Sound for Libraries
If you prefer your music to be of the natural variety, check out this eResource which has access to thousands of music tracks, both animal and human made. Like this birdsong.

Explore these and much, much more on our eResource A-Z page. All you need is your library card and PIN

Animal eResources: Kids & Teens

New Zealand Birds and Animals, Dogs & Frogs
Informative pages put together for our website, by our librarians.

Britannica Library for Kids & World Book Kids
Encyclopedia and reference material aimed at school aged kids.

National Geographic Kids
Archives from the popular kids magazine- all sorts of fun images, maps and articles on the natural world around us.

All of our other eResources for Kids can be found on our website.

Web Resources 

Books & Magazines

I would recommend Adventures of A Young Naturalist, the exploits of British broadcaster David Attenborough, and any of his groundbreaking and educational documentaries about the natural world which you can borrow for FREE at Christchurch City Libraries (in case you hadn’t heard, documentaries are now free at our libraries!). 

Some of our latest animal titles: 

You will also find animal mags online through our eMagazine resource RBdigital:

Browse for other books about animals through our catalogue.

Programming: Reading With Our Furry Friends

Jock the dog at Christchurch City Libraries. Flickr 2015-07-02-9429.

What kind of monster could resist that face? Reading to Dogs sessions are designed to provide a relaxed, non-threatening atmosphere in which children may practice their reading skills and develop a love of reading. Our dogs are the beloved pets of the Christchurch City Council Animal Management team, and have all been trained and tested for health, safety and temperament. Our dogs:

  • Can increase a child’s relaxation while reading
  • Listen attentively
  • Do not laugh, judge or criticise
  • Allow children to proceed at their own pace
  • Can be less intimidating than a child’s peers

Library staff and a dog handler will be present at all times to help facilitate the sessions. 

See our online calendar for dates and times

How Can You Help? NZ Organisations Helping Animals

Animal Shelters, Rescues and Adoption Agencies

Animal Rights Organisations

Zoos & Educational Facilities

As always, more information can be found in our community directory CINCH: Community Information Christchurch.

All creatures great and small – celebrate World Animal Day 2015

Cover of Brother Sun, Sister MoonWorld Animal Day is an international day of animal rights. It is held annually on 4th October, on the feast day of St Francis of Assisi.

On this day, some churches have the blessing of the animals. I don’t have any experience with this, but if the Vicar of Dibley is anything to go by, it’s a bit chaotic.

On a more serious note, it is good to know that (even in 13th century Italy) someone was sticking up for the animals. Animals need our help and protection, whether they be family pets, farm animals, zoo animals, or animals living in the great-out-doors.

Organizations such as SPCA, Cats Protection League, Department of Conservation, Forest and Bird and our own Christchurch City Council all champion the right for animals to have a good life.

For those who want more, we have a selection of books on animal rights. If you are a pet owner, check out our books on pet care. If your interest is wild animals, our collection of books on wildlife conservation will be of interest.

To get involved with other animal lovers, search for the specific animal you are interested in in our CINCH directory.

Cover of Why Animals Matter Cover of A New Zealand Book of Beasts Cover of All Creatures Great and Small Cover of The Ten Trusts

Brother Sun, Sister Moon

Francis of Assisi and his worldAs most Christchurch residents well know, yesterday marked one month A.C.E. (After Canterbury Earthquake);  however the 4th of October is also notable as World Animal Day and as the Feast Day of Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals, and founder of the Order of Friars Minor.

Francis was the son of a cloth merchant and was born towards the end of the 12th century in Assisi, in the gently rolling hills of Umbria.  Following a serious illness, he was inspired to give up all worldly goods to become an itinerant preacher.   His love for nature and animals gave rise to legends in which he was depicted preaching to birds and taming wolves. Many churches still hold an annual Blessing of the Animals service to commemorate his Feast Day.

Saint Francis is also remembered for his Canticle of the Creatures (also known as Canticle of the Sun) in which he refers to the sun, wind and fire as his brothers, and to the moon, stars and water as his sisters.

To find out more about Saint Francis (whose hometown, incidentally, was rocked by strong earthquakes in September 1997) browse the following resources:

And to (belatedly) celebrate World Animal Day, check out the following: