LAHORE: World Animal Day was observed on Wednesday with the aim to highlight animal issues, raise voice for their rights and urge everyone to protect and love animal by providing a better natural environment to them.The Punjab government, animal rights activists and educational institutions organised different programmes to create awareness about animal rights and their importance in our society.The Lahore Zoo arranged a ceremony to mark World Animal Day. On the occasion, preserved animals were also showcased to attract the visitors. Citizens, especially children, showed keen interest in them and took pictures with their favourite fauna (animals and birds).Punjab Wildlife and Parks Department Director General Khalid Ayaz Khan participated in the ceremony along with the zoo officials.Speaking on the occasion, Khalid Ayaz said that animals were sensitive creatures and the beauty of this world. “We should love animals and everyone should speak up for those who have no voice but have feelings like humans.” He further said that government was taking every possible measure for best look after of animals – like food and medical treatment at wildlife parks and zoos – across Punjab. He requested that everyone should play their role in this noble cause.Separately, to mark World Animal Day, the World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-Pakistan) organised a documentary screening for students, civil society members and the general public at its head office to highlight the issue of illegal wildlife trade.The film, Racing Extinction, is a 2015 documentary that follows a group of undercover activists trying to draw attention to the role of mankind in the loss of at least half of the world’s species. This documentary takes viewers to the hidden world of extinction with heart-wrenching images that are bound to change the way we see our planet and the threat our activities pose to its diversity. World Animal Day is an international day of action for animal rights and welfare, celebrated annually on October 4. It was first celebrated in 1931. In a message, WWF-Pakistan Senior Director Programmes Rab Nawaz said, “On this day, let us aim to celebrate animal life in all forms and their relationship with humankind. It is important to acknowledge the ecological importance of animals, as they bring us closer to nature. There is a dire need to raise awareness about all animal issues that exist throughout the world.”Meanwhile, the Vets Care Club of the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS) observed World Animal Day by organising a walk to create awareness among the people about protection and conservation of animal lives, humane handling of animals in feeding, treatment and also misuse (fights) for entertainment purposes. Faculty of Veterinary Science Dean Prof Dr Masood Rabbani led the walk while a number of teachers and students from various societies, including Special Animals and Veterinary Emergency Relief Society, Vet Crescent Society and Vets Care Club, participated in the walk.According to WWF’s Living Planet Report 2016, global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles declined by 58 percent between 1970 and 2012. Animals the world over face potential threats to their survival due to a rapidly increasing global population, decreasing wetlands and deforestation for the construction of new infrastructure. Invasive species of animals pose potential threats to indigenous wildlife and ecosystems and illegal wildlife trade is bringing many species to the verge of extinction.Speaking on the day, Wildlife Technical Adviser Dr Uzma Khan said, “We are part of nature, and living with love and respect for animals is the only way to ensure the survival of both mankind and wildlife. Our wildlife faces challenges of habitat loss, illegal trade, poaching and climate change. This is because the human has become the most invasive species. We have to check our own actions and act more responsibly.” Published in Daily Times, October 5th 2017.