By Al-Lisa McKay –

For the 84th year running, World Animal Day is being celebrated on October 4.


It started in 1931 in Florence Italy; its aim was to bring attention to endangered or threatened species. The date was chosen because it is the Feast Day of the patron saint of animals, St. Francis of Assisi.

It is a time to celebrate and appreciate our relationship with animals and the ways in which they enrich our lives. It is also an important opportunity to speak out to ensure the humane treatment of animals and to advocate for the protection of their habitats.

Each year the event continues to grow; the movement has grown to an estimated 1,000 events in 100 countries.

Groups, organizations, and individuals around the world have organized events that range from blessing animals and sponsored walks, to veterinary treatment camps and conferences.

With this day fast approaching after a summer of smoke and wild fire, the animals who also needed to evacuate their homes come through our thoughts.

Baby Cedar Waxwings that fell out of a tree and were taken to the bird sanctuary. Photo: Al-Lisa McKay
Baby Cedar Waxwings that fell out of a tree and were taken to the bird sanctuary. Photo: Al-Lisa McKay

Humans have the radio, internet, organizations, maps, and telephones to pin point and re-route us to safety in dire environmental situations, but how do the animals know where, when, and how to get to safety and which path to take?

When the flames begin, animals don’t just sit there and wait to be overcome. Birds will fly away. Mammals will run. Amphibians and other small creatures will burrow into the ground, hide out in logs, or take cover under rocks. And other animals, including large ones like elk, as a last-ditch effort, will take refuge in streams and lakes.

A baby bird I named Cricket, fell out of a tree and I brought him to the bird sanctuary. Photo: Al-Lisa McKay
A baby bird I named Cricket, fell out of a tree and I brought him to the bird sanctuary. Photo: Al-Lisa McKay

Some predators see the fleeing species as an opportunity for snacking. Bears, raccoons, and raptors, for instance, have been seen hunting animals trying to escape the flames. (Read “Under Fire” in National Geographic magazine.)

Nature takes her course and her animals and insects follow their inner compass, wisdom, and instinct for survival.

I felt the need to be a part of the animals’ lives who had been evacuated and placed into the Quesnel stockyards.

The volunteers there worked around the clock to give their utmost care for all the evacuated animals. I hoped to offer a little reprieve to their busy plight.

Here is a glimpse into a couple funny animal moments I shared on social media about my time in the shelter:

Day#2 at the animal shelter:

Jebb, a half plucked giant turkey, began following me around the grounds most of the morning. I thought he was stalking me as my only experiences with turkeys involved being chased when I was little. While I was crouching down to chat with some pups in a kennel, Jebb was ever so slowly side stepping towards me. Finally, he was standing directly behind my back, squarely breathing down the back of my neck. I stayed calm and did not make any sudden moves. While I was pondering my subtle escape, a co- worker said, “Oh, Jebb really wants your attention. He loves hugs.” So, I slowly turned around, looked into his regal face, and he leaned in to be snuggled. There I was, cuddled up with a semi-bald turkey named Jebb. I fell in love. You just don’t know what a day will bring.

Day #3 at the animal shelter:

This morning there was evidence of a prison cell riot in the cat ward. Blankets in the litter boxes and food scattered across the cages, they were a mess. There were new cat nip containers placed in the cages and I think that was the reason behind the uprising. Jebb the love turkey marched stoically like a London guard back and forth just outside the cat zone. I could see he was waiting for me and I was going to give him a snuggle once done cleaning up the cat anarchy aftermath. I was almost done and then I hear someone yell, “George, get back in your cage!”

The turkey got ushered away hissing and huffing all the way. What a surprise trying to hug George would have been. I had no idea Jebb had an evil twin named George. I think he had a sinister plan for me once I left the cat ward because when I later walked past his cage he puffed up, hissed, and resumed his back and forth London guard marching.

Phew! Close one.

“Today, more than ever before, life must be characterized by a universal sense of responsibility, not only nation to nation and human to human, but also, human to all other forms of life.”
– The Dalai Lama

For more information and curriculum ideas about World Animal Day visit:

Al-Lisa McKay, operates Miss White Spider Arts from Williams Lake BC. Miss White Spider Arts is a fine arts business offering workshops, travelling theatre, paintings, portraits, puppets, dolls, music, dance, sculpture, installation art, murals, and other fine arts. See Facebook: Miss White Spider Arts or website:


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