National Wildlife Day is celebrated every year on September 4. The day's purpose is to raise awareness about endangered species and their habitats, which need to be protected and rescued. It is also a day to recognize the work that some animal sanctuaries and zoos do to help preserve wildlife and to educate their visitors about the dangers that animals face and how they can help.
This goal is so important that National Wildlife Day is observed twice a year: on September 4 and February 22. The celebration is not the same as World Wildlife Day, which is a separate event held in March and supported by The UN.
National Wildlife Day was founded in 2005 by Colleen Paige, to bring awareness to the problems that the planet's wildlife faces. In September of 2006, the world lost one of its best wildlife experts and conservationists, Steve Irwin. In his honor, Paige dedicated National Wildlife Day to him and his work, and added the date of February 22, Steve Irwin's birthday, as the second observance of National Wildlife Day.
This is a day when preservation organizations and sanctuaries can get attention to promote their work and teach people about how crucial it is that we keep endangered animals and their habitats safe. Animal extinction often happens because of human actions, so it is important to educate people on how they can help at preventing this. Many animals are defenseless and count on our help to survive, this day should inspire us all to do good and take action.
Wildlife in need
National Wildlife Day draws our attention to some of the dilemmas our planet faces, with not only animals being endangered, but also rarer forms of flora and fauna. According to The International Union for Conservation of Nature, there are 40,084 species facing the threat of extinction and 8722 of those are critically endangered, In North America, this includes animals such as:
- Atlantic Whitefish (only found in Canada, in parts of Nova Scotia)
White River Spinedace (A freshwater fish only found in Nevada)
Florida Semaphore Cactus (A tree-like cactus found in Florida and almost completely eliminated by humans who have dug up and kept the plant to themselves)
Oceanic Hawaiian Damselfly (Once common in Hawaii there is now thought to be less than 1000 remaining)
Fat-whorled Pondsnail (Can be found in Utah and Wyoming, although its numbers are declining)
What to do on National Wildlife Day
If you have a special interest in animals and conservationism, check with zoos and sanctuaries near you to see if they need any volunteers. If you are unable to donate your time, or you have no animal sanctuaries near you, set up a monthly donation to a zoo or preservation organization, or sponsor one of their animals.
Since wildlife isn't just about animals, but all nature, you use this day as an opportunity to go for a hike or a camping trip. Maybe try to escape the busy city life and connect with the nature around you for a bit, exploring the great outdoors. While you're at it, keep the environment safe for animals by cleaning any trash that you find left behind by other people before you.