Calendar of Wild Animal Days
Want to join others to advocate for better treatment of wild animals? Want to support the work of those involved in protecting wildlife and their habitats? Here’s a list of official celebration events.
[Page in progress! Send us your information and ideas on important events we should add!]
January 5. National Bird Day (U.S.). 2016 is the 14th annual event. One focus is on the plight of birds in captivity. “While we have enacted laws to protect our native birds—such as blue jays, cardinals, and crows—from commercial exploitation, we [still allow] the pet industry to exploit the bird species native to other countries.” Website at www.nationalbirdday.com includes teaching tools and much more. #NationalBirdDay
February 13. World Whale Day. Founded on Maui in the Hawaiian Islands by the Pacific Whale Foundation in 1980. A good day to brush up on your whale facts: Six Things to Know about Whales. (You know they’re mammals, not fish, right? And are really big, and can dive really deep!)
February 14. World Bonobo Day. The nonprofit Bonobo Project sponsors this day to raise greater awareness of this extraordinary and relatively unknown great ape – the bonobo, a critically endangered species. They maintain a great page of Bonobo facts and videos .
February 15. World Hippo Day. According to this page of Hippo facts: “There are around 125,000 hippos left in the world. Their historic range is throughout most of central and southern Africa, but habitat loss has driven them mostly to protected areas.” (There is no official website for World Hippo Day, but you can still celebrate it!)
February 16–19, 2018. Great Backyard Bird Count. “The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is a free, fun, and easy event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of bird populations. Participants are asked to count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the four-day event and report their sightings online at birdcount.org. Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from beginning bird watchers to experts, and you can participate from your backyard, or anywhere in the world.”
February 20. World Pangolin Day. The pangolin is a little-known, highly endangered animal. Sometimes called a scaly anteater, they are nocturnal, secretive, and live in Asia or Africa. Sadly, they are often the victims of poachers, illegally hunted for their meat. Here’s one link to facts about the fascinating pangolin. Here’s more info at the World Wildlife Fund site.
February 27. International Polar Bear Day. This annual global event draws attention to the challenges polar bears face in a warming Arctic—and how we can help with advocacy and information sharing. The site include facts about polar bears, with photos, videos, and educational materials.
All March. Dolphin Awareness Month.
March 3. World Wildlife Day. This annual day, launched by the UN General Assembly in 2013, will be celebrated in 2016 under the theme “The future of wildlife is in our hands.” African and Asian elephants will be a main focus in 2016.
April 22. Earth Day. This is the grand celebration, founded in 1970, that seeks to inspire all to a greater awareness of our planet’s ecology, encouraging a respect for all life on the planet, teaching about the dangers of pollution, loss of wilderness and natural habitats, and a warming climate. It’s the world we share. Let’s protect it!
April 25. World Penguin Day. There’s not an official website (as far as we know, but here are some fun facts about penguins from National Geographic.
May 20. Endangered Species Day. A day to focus on the importance of protecting endangered species and everyday actions we can take to help protect wild animals who are endangered by climate change, habitat loss, illegal poaching, and other threats to their existence. (Includes a Endangered Species Youth Art Contest, open to K–12 grade students, including homeschoolers or participants in a youth/art program; entries must be received by March 1, 2016.)
May 23. World Turtle Day [link is to a Facebook page]. World Turtle Day is May 23rd each year and is celebrated throughout the world. It was started in 2000 by American Tortoise Rescue . (And every Tuesday is #TortoiseTuesday !)
June 16. World Sea Turtle Day. A good activity for today: decrease your use of plastic bags, which often end up in the ocean where they are consumed by sea turtles who think the bags are jellyfish, a favorite food of turtles. For on the dangers of plastic to turtles: http://www.seeturtles.org/ocean-plastic . Also, NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration) sponsors Sea Turtle week around the same time in June: #seaturtleweek .
July 21-27, 2018. National Moth Week. National Moth Week celebrates the beauty, life cycles, and habitats of moths. “Moth-ers” of all ages and abilities are encouraged to learn about, observe, and document moths in their backyards, parks, and neighborhoods. National Moth Week is held worldwide during the last full week of July. NMW offers everyone, everywhere an opportunity to become a Citizen Scientist and contribute scientific data about moths. NMW participants can help map moth distribution and provide information on other moth data. Finding moths can be as simple as leaving a porch light on and checking it after dark. Sounds like a great school (or homeschooling) project!
August 12. World Elephant Day. World Elephant Day was launched 2012 to bring attention to the urgent plight of Asian and African elephants, a day to engage in advocacy, share knowledge, and support solutions for the better care of captive and wild elephants.
August 19. International Orangutan Day. International Orangutan Day is a day to recognize these long-haired primates, which are highly intelligent and are close relatives of humans. Here are more facts on orangutans, from National Geographic. Sadly, in recent years, the number of Sumatran and Bornean orangutans have fallen greatly. A big problem is palm oil production; today, most palm oil comes from Indonesia and Malaysia. A lot of pristine rainforest is destroyed to create palm oil plantations, and many orangutans and other animals are killed and displaced. Visit this page for more on the palm oil problem.
September 22. World Rhino Day. Founded by the World Wildlife Fund in 2010, this annual event celebrates all five species of rhino: black, white, greater one-horned, Sumatran and Javan rhinos. One goal is to combat the myth that rhino horn contains health benefits and to diminish the demand for rhino horn.
Late September. Sea Otter Awareness Week. The fourth week in September is a time to honor these adorable and important marine mammals. Here’s a link to educational materials on otters from the Defenders of Wildlife.
October 4. World Animal Day. World Animal Day is a day to celebrate all animals, of all shapes and size, wild and domesticated. and the unique concerns of each, in every country. It’s a special opportunity to commemorate our love and respect for animals by doing something special to highlight their importance in the world: awareness & educational events; shelter & pet adoption events; conferences & workshops; animal blessing services; fundraising events such as concerts; and more!
First full week in November. Polar Bear Week. “Polar Bear Week coincides with the fall polar bear migration to Churchill, Manitoba, where polar bears gather to wait for freeze-up on Hudson Bay so they can return to hunting seals. During Polar Bear Week, we focus on the importance of sea ice to polar bears – and why we must take action on climate change to ensure their survival.”
November 12–18 (2017). Orangutan Awareness Week. Sponsored by the Orangutan Foundation, the goal is to draw attention to challenges faced by the critically endangered orangutan and their rainforest home. The week encourages people to support orangutan conservation. Money raised helps protect the habitat of the orangutan in Indonesia.