World Animal Day! Is it an Official Holiday?

Photo taken by Mary Morales

After a long overnight shift at the animal emergency hospital, I arrived home and settled into bed. Right before I fell asleep, I responded to all the text messages I received throughout the day that I wasn’t able to answer immediately. Without even realizing it, I fell asleep.

 

“I love all my animals. I think there should be a world animal day. I just love them. They deserve a holiday and more.”  That was the text message I sent to my youngest sister the previous night right before I knocked out.  Of course I was exhausted, but the text was expressing how I really felt. It was almost like I was drunk texting. 

 

The text conversation started because my sister was telling me how she was planning to throw her best friend a baby shower. Her friend loves sloths, so my sister was thoughtful enough to make that the baby shower theme. “Sloths. What an interesting animal,” I thought to myself. And what a wonderful and cute theme idea!

 

Photo taken by Mary Morales in Playa Jaco, Costa Rica

 

As my sister continued telling me the ideas she had, my thoughts started going towards the animals in this world that I enjoy so much. They impact our lives in so many beautiful ways and half of the time, we may not even realize it. There should definitely be a holiday for them. A day in which we honor their existence. Although I do believe that they should be honored every day, it would just be more gratifying to have an actual holiday for them. We have a national siblings’ day, a national donut day, a national coffee day, a national dog day, etc. So why do we not have a World Animal Day? How is this not an official day?

 

While I was drinking my coffee that morning and my mind of course, started to race a hundred miles an hour, I started doing some research. To my surprise, I found out that there actually is a World Animal Day, though, it isn’t an official holiday. 

 

World Animal Day is an international day of action for animal welfare and animal rights that is celebrated annually on October 4th. October 4th is also the feast day of Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. “How did I not know this?” I asked myself. I knew that there is St. Francis of Assisi Day, but I failed to put it all together.

 

I am now going to jump a few months prior to my discovery of the actual existence of World Animal Day. In October 2018, I was invited to visit a veterinary school in Costa Rica. Because the faculty of the school knows that I have a strong interest in pursuing a degree in veterinary medicine, they sent me and my guest an invitation. The event they were hosting was on October 4th. Yes, World Animal Day (at the time I did not know it). I gladly accepted the invitation, made reservations for a few nights in Playa Jaco, Costa Rica for my best friend and me, and booked the flight. The day quickly approached us, and before we knew it, we were roaming around in Costa Rica.

 

If you have never been to Costa Rica, I highly recommend that you visit the country. Not only is the country so rich with nature, beaches and wildlife, it is home to so many beautiful Ticos (Costa Ricans). Ticos are very welcoming and friendly people. The country reminded me so much of what I grew up around and brought back so many great childhood memories. Not to mention, Ticos also prepare some of the best food and some of the best coffee! All coffee lovers, please try Costa Rica’s coffee if you haven’t yet. You’ll be glad you did. Now, back to focusing on the rest of my visit!  🙂

 

My visit to the veterinary school was unforgettable. The University campus was so open and green. They had horses, cows, dogs, cats, and many other farm animals. The students and staff also appeared to be enjoying their time on campus. For those that don’t know, veterinary school is very difficult. The major is just one of the most challenging college/university majors out there. It does not matter on what part of the world the vet school is located. Veterinary school, in general, is extremely challenging. It is just as difficult to be accepted into a school as it is to keep up with the work as a veterinary student.  But the people in Costa Rica attending and working there, do not allow the challenge to overcome their appreciation, dedication, and their love for teaching the students that care for their animals. That is because Ticos follow their strong beliefs and their slogan, “Pura Vida,” Spanish for “Pure Life.”

 

Photo taken by Teresa S.

 

The school was not only celebrating World Animal Day and St. Francis of Assisi, they were also hosting an open house. They showed potential students and their parents around their beautiful campus, the veterinary school anatomy lab, and the classrooms. They also had an information session for the students that were interested in applying. They even had a costume contest for the student’s pets. It was an adorable moment!

 

The remainder of our time in Costa Rica was beyond pleasant. Words will never fully express how much I enjoyed my time there. On my way back to the states, I couldn’t stop thinking about how differently animals are treated in various parts of the world. Even though Costa Rica is still considered a third world country, the Ticos and residents still make an effort to preserve the natural habitat of their nation. And they do a great job! This is why Costa Rica is considered to be the most biodiverse countries on the planet. With the way this planet is changing so much, I hope it remains like it is for a very very long time. Actually, let me rephrase that. I hope it remains the way it is forever, and if it’s possible, I hope the rest of the world adopts some of their ideas, fast!

 

If Ticos appreciate what they have and embrace what’s around them, why can’t the rest of the world do the same? If Ticos love their animals and celebrate the day to honor them, why is it that a large percentage of the planet doesn’t quite do the same? World Animal Day is not about religion, or politics or beliefs. It isn’t about protesting or about trying to change policies. World Animal Day is a day to honor all the animals we still have in this world. The animals that sacrifice a lot for us. The animals that we should be embracing and protecting all year round.

 

 

 

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