Happy World Animal Day! Today is a day dedicated to the many animals that also call earth home and there are events all around the world today to celebrate. Today was initially started by Heinrich Zimmermann, a German writer and magazine publisher, in 1925. For the first few years, the day happened annually on March 24th but by 1931, the day was changed to October 4th to coincide with the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi.

Today is also the Feast Day of Saint Francis of Assisi and many Catholics around the world celebrate the day with a Blessing fo the Animals. Saint Francis is the patron saint of animals and ecology, due to his work and love of animals while he was alive. Born to a wealthy family around 1182, Francis abandoned his life of luxury to live a life of poverty in devotion to God after he spent a year in prison. During his life, he also developed a deep love for animals and nature, which is why he is now the patron saint of animals and ecology.

And it’s not just Roman Catholics who celebrate the Blessing of the Animals, as other denominations celebrate it as well! The United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, and the Unitarian Universalist Association, for example, all have resources on having a blessing of the animals! Plus, many congregations around the country and world have Blessing of the Animals events around this day each year.

There are so many ways to celebrate World Animal Day today and all year round! You can donate time, resources, or money to rescue organizations, conservation groups, and other organizations that help animals. Terry Lauerman made news when photos were posted on the internet of him taking cat naps with rescue cats looking for their new homes! Many animal rescue groups in the Pacific Northwest need volunteers and foster families all year round.

You could also help clean up parks, beaches, and other areas around you, as litter can harm wildlife and the environment. You can also pledge to use less plastic, as so much of our plastic ends up in the ocean and harms the animals that call the ocean home.

After all that, there are so many different films about animals and the environment you can watch! Here are just a few to get you started:

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