It has been almost a century since Heinrich Zimmermann initiated World Animal Day. The writer and publisher of German magazine Mensch Und Hund (Man And Dog) organised the first celebration on March 24, 1925 in Berlin.
The date was changed to Oct 4 to coincide with the feast day of St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. So this Wednesday animal lovers can participate in events to support animal welfare and rights.
Last year's theme "A Shared Planet" underlined interdependence as all species play an important role in their ecosystems.
The 2023 theme "Great Or Small Love Them All" emphasises the importance of animals of all sizes, from small mice to large elephants. Rodents are often used for scientific research while the pachyderm are deplorably mistreated for tourism.
Advocating to end the plights of these two creatures and other species is an example of how we can show our love for animals in order to make the world a better place for them.
The theme calls for us to give our voices to all species, from avian creatures and farm critters to wildlife and marine animals through activities organised around the world.
Since 2003, UK-based Naturewatch Foundation has spread the word through the World Animal Day website, and events have been held in an increasing number of countries to drive a global animal welfare movement.
Raising awareness is one of the first steps to making a difference. The torture of animal testing is cinematically exposed in Marvel Studios' Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3, directed by James Gunn and released earlier this year.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) praised the movie as an animal rights masterpiece and Gunn was honoured with the Not a Number Award.
The blockbuster portrays how lab animals are given an ID number, such as 89P13, who was later named Rocket.
The anthropomorphic raccoon is the result of illegal genetic and cybernetic experiments conducted by the High Evolutionary. Rocket's cybernetic-ally engineered friends include an otter with mechanical arms; a walrus with wheels; and a rabbit with a metal muzzle and spider-like legs.
The plot traces the backstory of Rocket through flashbacks of him as a baby raccoon cowering in a cage. Another scene shows how he is strapped into a restraining device, like those used for primates in laboratories.
Various CGI animals are subjected to cruelty as the High Evolutionary wants to create the perfect species for Counter-Earth.
Rocket and the other fictional creatures represent how in reality animals such as mice and rabbits never get to see the open sky as they are locked in laboratory cages for scientific research and product testing every day.
After enduring pain, suffering, loneliness, and terror, they are likely killed, like in the film, once they are no longer of use.
Another character, Cosmo the Spacedog is inspired by Laika, the first animal in orbit launched on Soviet satellite Sputnik 2 in Nov 1957. Without life-support systems, the stray, female dog-turned-cosmonaut tragically perished in the experimental mission.
In Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3, the telepathic pup is a hero who holds the ships of the High Evolutionary and Guardians together so that imprisoned young kids can escape.
Rocket then sets free baby raccoons in a cage and proclaims that all other animals should be saved from the exploding spacecraft. The Marvel movie reflects on compassion and having empathy for all living things as well as solidarity within and across species.
This carries a compelling message that relates to the 2023 theme of World Animal Day in loving all animals, big or small.
Animals lovers can join the global movement by initiating or joining animal rights and welfare activities. Consumers can simply start helping animals through daily purchasing decisions, by supporting cruelty-free brands that offer products without animal testing.
Kanokporn Chanasongkram is a feature writer for the Life section of the Bangkok Post.