The mission of World Animal Day, according to the official World Animal Day website is "To raise the status of animals in order to improve welfare standards around the globe. Building the celebration of World Animal Day unites the animal welfare movement, mobilising it into a global force to make the world a better place for all animals. It's celebrated in different ways in every country, irrespective of nationality, religion, faith or political ideology. Through increased awareness and education we can create a world where animals are always recognised as sentient beings and full regard is always paid to their welfare."
World Animal Day was originated by Heinrich Zimmermann, the German writer and publisher of the magazine Mensch und Hund/Man and Dog. He organized the first World Animal Day on 24 March 1925 at the Sport Palace in Berlin, Germany. Over 5,000 people attended this first event. The event was originally scheduled for 4 October, to align with the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology, however the venue was not available on that day. The event was moved to 4 October for the first time in 1929. Initially he found a following only in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Czechoslovakia. Every year Zimmermann worked tirelessly on the promotion of World Animal Day. Finally, in May 1931 at a congress of the International Animal Protection Congress in Florence Italy, his proposal to make 4 October World Animal Day universal, was unanimously accepted and adopted as a resolution.
It is sometimes cited that World Animal Day started in 1931 at the convention of ecologists in Florence, Italy who wished to highlight the plight of endangered species.
Today, World Animal Day is a global event uniting the animal protection movement, led and sponsored by UK-based animal welfare charity, Naturewatch Foundation since 2003.