Celebration of World Animal Day on October 4, 2010
World Animal Day is celebrated each year on October 4. This event was started in 1931 at a Convention of Ecologists in Florence in order to highlight the plight of endangered species. It has since grown to encompass all kinds of animal life and is recognized in countries throughout the world.
This year’s theme is “Get involved – do something special for the animals” and in heeding this call, the Zoo invited students from the San Juan Presbyterian School to come in for the day and enrich the lives of some of the animals. Twenty students designated as Junior Zookeepers for the day, accompanied by their teachers, Mr. Rawlins Persad and Ms. Sharlimar Khan spent time under the close supervision of the staff zookeepers making enrichment items to give to selected animals.
Nirmal Biptah, Curator at the Emperor Valley Zoo who assisted with preparations for the day, stated that “taking advantage of opportunities such as World Animal Day to celebrate and appreciate our relationships with all animals is a step in the right direction”. As the present custodians of the zoo animals, it was felt that there is a responsibility to treat these creatures with respect, kindness, compassion and love.
The enrichment activities, although already part of the zoo routine, was given to the “Junior Zookeepers” to implement as it was the most direct way to demonstrate the response of animals to acts of kindness and love.
The children participated in making enrichment items for the chimpanzee, capuchins, lion and macaws. These included gift boxes laden with fruits, assorted snacks and nuts for the chimp and capuchins, watermelon hollowed out and stuffed with raisins, nuts and bananas for the macaws and spiced pumpkin stuffed with raw meat for the lion. All the items were eagerly accepted by the animals and the children experienced a rewarding feeling when they saw how the animals responded to their offerings.
At the end of the event, the children were awarded a certificate of appreciation for their role in World Animal Day by Subrat Rampaul, Head Zookeeper who supervised the activities. He felt certain that the animals had gained twenty new champions and that one of the major outcomes “to instill in the young generation an appreciation for animals”, was certainly achieved.
The ZSTT would like to urge citizens to do their part in improving the lives of animals. There are numerous acts of individual responsiveness in our independent activities that we can do to improve the state of animals within our nation. Some such activities include volunteering in an organization dedicated to animal protection; joining a beach clean up campaign to prepare for the turtle nestling season, or simply being good companions to our pets. The important thing is to keep the spirit of humanity alive and be a good neighbour to the animals with which we share our Earthly place.