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Help Save Creatures Great and Small on World Animal Day

Animals
NPS Photo / Kevyn Jalone

On World Animal Day, we celebrate all the furry, scaly, winged and finned creatures that inhabit our planet.

On this international day of action, participants aim to "raise the status of animals in order to improve welfare standards around the globe," according to organizers at the UK-based charity Naturewatch Foundation. The occasion was first celebrated in 1925 and is observed annually on Oct. 4.


Roughly 1,000 World Animal Day events, including educational workshops, adoptions, marches and fundraisers, will be held across 100 countries. Folks around the world are also making pledges, such as using cruelty-free products or going vegetarian or vegan to help make a positive difference.

At EcoWatch, animal conservation is a major priority. Animals not only inspire wonder and awe, but as important parts to the ecosystems they inhabit, biodiversity loss puts the environment and human well-being at risk.

The following list shows some of our most popular animal-related content in the past year. These five stories highlight the threats faced by creatures great and small, from pollinator deaths to "trophy" hunting. On a positive note, the list features conservation success stories, brave feats of activism and includes ways you can help protect animals in your everyday life.

1. EPA Considers Allowing Bee-Killing Pesticide to Be Sprayed on 165 Million Acres of U.S. Farmland. This Dec. 2017 article by the Center for Biological Diversity reported that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had considered allowing the bee-killing pesticide thiamethoxam to be sprayed on the most widely grown crops in the U.S. This harmful neonicotinoid pesticide has long been known to pose serious harm to bee populations, as well as birds of all sizes and aquatic invertebrates.

  • What you can do to help: The Xerces Society, a non-profit invertebrate conservation society you should consider supporting, has a number of recommendations to protect pollinators from neonicotinoids, from avoiding pesticide use around your home and asking your local nursery to stop selling the products.

2. Against All Odds, Mountain Gorilla Numbers Are on the Rise. A census of mountain gorillas showed that their population rose from 480 animals in 2010 to 604 as of June 2016, thanks to dedicated conservation efforts. The mountain gorilla subspecies is the only great ape known to be increasing in number.

  • What you can do to help: The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund recommends asking your lawmakers to continue to support the Great Ape Conservation Fund, as well as recycling cell phones and electronics, as they contain metals that are mined from gorilla habitat in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The fund also suggests looking for sustainable palm oil, wood and other eco-friendly products, as gorilla forest habitats in Asia are being deforested for their resources.

3. Father and Son Charged With Killing Mother Bear and 'Shrieking' Cubs in Den. In April, a father and son from Palmer, Alaska shot and killed a mother black bear and her two "shrieking" newborn cubs in their den. The hunt took place on state land but the topic of trophy hunting has reignited under the Trump administration, which is proposing to overturn an Obama-era rule that protects iconic predators in Alaska's national preserves. The plan would allow hunters to go to den sites to shoot bear cubs and wolf pups, lure and kill bears over bait, hunt bears with dogs and use motor boats to shoot swimming caribou.

  • What you can do to help: The proposed rule, which is posted in the federal register, is still accepting comments until 11:59 p.m. EST on Nov. 5, 2018. Make your voice heard!

4. Notorious Toothfish Poacher Arrested by Liberian Coast Guard, Assisted by Sea Shepherd. In March, an infamous Antarctic and Patagonian toothfish poaching vessel was arrested in Liberia with the assistance of Sea Shepherd, a marine conservation group.

  • What you can do to help: Donate to Sea Shepherd, which has been patrolling the high seas and enforcing conservation law worldwide for more than 40 years. There are countless other non-profits such as Ocean Conservancy, Oceana and Surfrider Foundation that help protect our oceans and save the lives of aquatic life, dolphins, seals, whales and fish.

5. House Republicans Launch Extinction Bills to Cripple Endangered Species Act. Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives initiated yet another attack on the Endangered Species Act. The Center for Biological Diversity reported that the move was among the 75-plus legislative attacks that have been launched against the Endangered Species Act ever since Trump took office—and more than 300 since 2011, when Republicans took over the U.S. House of Representatives.

  • What you can do to help: The Endangered Species Act, signed into law by President Nixon in 1973, is one of the most successful wildlife conservation laws in the world. More than 99 percent of species covered under the law have been saved from extinction. Protect the law from becoming extinct itself by telling Congress that you support the law and oppose any efforts to weaken it. You can also sign these petitions from Defenders of Wildlife and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A vegan diet can improve your health, but experts say it's important to keep track of nutrients and protein. Getty Images

By Dan Gray

  • Research shows that 16 weeks of a vegan diet can boost the gut microbiome, helping with weight loss and overall health.
  • A healthy microbiome is a diverse microbiome. A plant-based diet is the best way to achieve this.
  • It isn't necessary to opt for a strictly vegan diet, but it's beneficial to limit meat intake.

New research shows that following a vegan diet for about 4 months can boost your gut microbiome. In turn, that can lead to improvements in body weight and blood sugar management.

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Students gathered at the National Mall in Washington DC, Sept. 20. NRDC

By Jeff Turrentine

Nearly 20 years have passed since the journalist Malcolm Gladwell popularized the term tipping point, in his best-selling book of the same name. The phrase denotes the moment that a certain idea, behavior, or practice catches on exponentially and gains widespread currency throughout a culture. Having transcended its roots in sociological theory, the tipping point is now part of our everyday vernacular. We use it in scientific contexts to describe, for instance, the climatological point of no return that we'll hit if we allow average global temperatures to rise more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. But we also use it to describe everything from resistance movements to the disenchantment of hockey fans when their team is on a losing streak.

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By Ruairi Robertson, PhD

Berries are small, soft, round fruit of various colors — mainly blue, red, or purple.

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By Mark Mancini

On Aug. 18, Iceland held a funeral for the first glacier lost to climate change. The deceased party was Okjökull, a historic body of ice that covered 14.6 square miles (38 square kilometers) in the Icelandic Highlands at the turn of the 20th century. But its glory days are long gone. In 2014, having dwindled to less than 1/15 its former size, Okjökull lost its status as an official glacier.

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Members of Chicago Democratic Socialists of America table at the Logan Square Farmers Market on Aug. 18. Alex Schwartz

By Alex Schwartz

Among the many vendors at the Logan Square Farmers Market on Aug. 18 sat three young people peddling neither organic vegetables, gourmet cheese nor handmade crafts. Instead, they offered liberation from capitalism.

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By Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD

Muffins are a popular, sweet treat.

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Hackney primary school students went to the Town Hall on May 24 in London after school to protest about the climate emergency. Jenny Matthews / In Pictures / Getty Images

By Caroline Hickman

Eco-anxiety is likely to affect more and more people as the climate destabilizes. Already, studies have found that 45 percent of children suffer lasting depression after surviving extreme weather and natural disasters. Some of that emotional turmoil must stem from confusion — why aren't adults doing more to stop climate change?

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Myrtle warbler. Gillfoto / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Bird watching in the U.S. may be a lot harder than it once was, since bird populations are dropping off in droves, according to a new study.

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