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October 17, 2008

World Animal Day

World Animal Day was observed earlier this month - on October 4th. Started in Florence Italy in 1931 at a convention of ecologists, World Animal Day has since expanded its focus from its original intent, which was to bring attention to endangered or threatened species. The day is now set aside as a time to reflect on all of the animals we share this world with, and our involvement with them - and to spur action to commemorate that respectful relationship. Half the world's mammals are declining in population and more than a third are probably threatened with extinction, according to an update of of the Red List (an inventory of biodiversity issued by the IUCN), released on October 6, 2008. Below is a collection of recent photos of animals around the world - Happy (belated) World Animal Day. (38 photos total)

Green Sea Turtles in the waters of Bora Bora, Tahiti are seen in this undated photograph from an exhibit titled "Irreplaceable: Wildlife in a Warming World," recently shown at the Peerless building in downtown Providence, Rhode Island. The exhibit showcased animals most threatened by global warming, such as green sea turtles. The gender of sea turtle eggs are determined by temperature, which means global warming would upset the natural gender balance. (Michele Westmorland)

A grizzly bear looks on at St-Felicien Wildlife Zoo in St-Felicien, Quebec September 24, 2008. Parks Canada estimates that up to 20,000 grizzly bears remain in western Alberta, the Yukon and Northwest Territories and British Columbia. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada lists grizzly bear as a "Special Concern". (REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger) #

A blacktip shark is seen in this undated handout image released on October 10, 2008. Scientists using DNA testing have confirmed the second-known instance of "virgin birth" in a shark - a female of this species named Tidbit that produced a baby without a male shark. The shark died after being removed from the tank at a Virginia aquarium for a veterinary examination, and a subsequent necropsy revealed that Tidbit was carrying a fully developed shark pup nearly ready to be born. Virgin birth, known scientifically as parthenogenesis, also has been documented in Komodo dragons, snakes, birds, bony fish and amphibians. (REUTERS/Matthew D. Potenski) #

A zebra eyes visitors at the zoo in Chisinau, Moldova Sunday Sept. 28, 2008. (AP Photo/John McConnico) #

Bears are seen in their enclosure in a reservation near Zarnesti, 250km north of Bucharest, Romania on August 11, 2008. With half of Europe's brown bears living in Romania's largely unspoiled Carpathian mountains, environmentalists and local authorities are struggling to keep the wild animals and residents in mountain towns like Brasov safe from each other. (REUTERS/Mihai Barbu) #

In this photo released by the Wildlife Conservation Society, a Chilean pink flamingo preens its feathers at the Bronx Zoo in New York, Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2008. (AP Photo/WCS, Julie Larsen Maher) #

This new species of blind, subterranean, predatory ant, Martialis heureka, was discovered in the Amazon by Christian Rabeling at The University of Texas at Austin. It belongs to the first new subfamily of living ants discovered since 1923, and is a descendant of one of the first ant lineages to evolve over 120 million years ago. (Reuters/ C. Rabeling & M. Verhaagh) #

A giant kangaroo rat is seen in this undated photo provided by the Nature Conservancy. When the San Joaquin Valley was an arid grassy plain, giant kangaroo rats were the seed-hording gardeners that helped propagate native plants. Now scientists are turning to satellite technology to determine how climate change and rainfall patterns are affecting the endangered species' remaining habitat. (AP Photo/University of California, Berkeley, John Roser) #

This photo, released on September 19, 2008, shows a piece of soft coral recently found on Australia's coral reefs. Hundreds of new marine species have been found there recently, surprising an international team of biologists who announced details of their findings September 18, 2008. The three expeditions to Lizard and Heron islands, and Ningaloo Reef, included a first systematic scientific inventory of spectacular soft corals, named octocorals for the eight tentacles around each polyp. (GARY GRANITCH/AFP/Getty Images) #

A halo around the Sun is seen behind a Rothschild giraffe as it leans over a wall to take food from the hands of visitors at The Giraffe Centre in the Lang'ata suburb of Nairobi, Kenya, Sunday, Sept. 21, 2008. Run by the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife, The Giraffe Centre was founded in 1979 and aims to protect the endangered Rothschild giraffe. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis) #

An Atlantic wolffish,is seen at a Portland, Maine, fish store, on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2008. The Conservation Law Foundation recently asked the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to list the Atlantic wolffish as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. (AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach) #

This handout picture from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) dated July 19, 2008 shows a gray whale emerging offshore in North-Eastern Sakhalin in Russia's Far East. Russian environmental groups launched legal action against an oil and gas project led by US energy giant Exxon on October 3, 2008, for threatening critically endangered whales in Russia's far east. (GRISHA TSIDULKO/AFP/Getty Images) #

Indah, a three week old Malayan tapir chews on a twig during her first photocall at Edinburgh zoo, Scotland October 16, 2008. Malayan tapirs, which are an endangered species, are hoofed animals related to rhinos and horses and are found in the forests of Malaysia, Thailand, Burma and Sumatra. (REUTERS/David Moir) #

Polar bear cub "Wilbaer", left, plays with his mother Corinna in the outdoor enclosure at Stuttgart Zoo, Southern Germany, on Tuesday June 10, 2008. (AP Photo/Daniel Maurer) #

A young European tree frog sits on the finger of a keeper on October 2, 2008 at the zoo in Nuremberg, southern Germany. The zoo is breeding the species and plans to reintroduce them to the wild in Nuremberg and the city's surroundings. (TIMM SCHAMBERGER/AFP/Getty Images) #

Narwhals seen along the floe edge in Arctic Bay, Canada. The whales are pushing under the ice to feed on cod. They come up in seal holes and rotten ice in order to catch a breath. This undated photo is part of an exhibit titled "Irreplaceable: Wildlife in a Warming World," recently shown at the Peerless building in downtown Providence, Rhode Island. (Paul Nicklen/National Geographic Image Collection) #

A man holds a newly hatched green turtle at Ujung Genteng beach near Pelabuhan Ratu in Indonesia's West Java province October 9, 2008. Green turtles are listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). (REUTERS/Beawiharta) #

David White, of Wayne, New Jersey, holds his Grand Champion sphynx named Good Golly Miss Molly, at a press preview for the 6th Annual CFA Iams Cat Championship at Madison Square Garden on October 15, 2008 in New York City. The cat show will feature New York's largest feline shopping mall and a cat adoption garden. (Michael Nagle/Getty Images) #

This undated handout picture shows a Common Kingfisher with a fish in his beak. Germany's environmental protection organisations NABU (Naturschutzbund) and LBV (Landesbund fuer Vogelschutz) announced on October 10, 2008 that they had nominated the Common Kingfisher as "Bird of the Year 2009". (MANFRED DELPHO/AFP/Getty Images) #

A baby Linne's two-toed sloth relaxes on a towel at Chiba Zoological Park near Tokyo Saturday, Oct. 11, 2008. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye) #

Bears play in a pond in their enclosure in a reservation near Zarnesti, 250km north of Bucharest, Romania on August 11, 2008. (REUTERS/Mihai Barbu) #

This red river hog is shown in its temporary location at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2008. A pair of the hogs, native to West Africa, went on display recently, in the first major new exhibit at Audubon since Hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005. (AP Photo/Bill Haber) #

Amur tigers Sasha (L) and Yuri, recently transferred from Edinburgh Zoo, fight over food in their new enclosure at The Highland Wildlife Park in Kingussie, near Aviemore in Scotland on October 6, 2008. With only 500 Amur tigers remaining in the wild around the Amur river valley in the far east of Russia, it is hoped that the pair will continue to contribute to the worldwide breeding programme from their new home in the Scottish Highlands. (REUTERS/David Moir) #

Lions rest their muzzles in the bars of their enclosure in a zoo near Amman, Jordan September 25, 2008. (REUTERS/Ali Jarekji) #

In this photo released by the Wildlife Conservation Society, a blue poison dart frog is perched on a rock at the Bronx Zoo, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008 in New York. The frog's blue color serves and an indicator to other species that its secretions are toxic. (AP Photo/WCS, Julie Larsen Maher) #

A man leaves a stray dog adoption event with his new puppy in his arms after adopting it in Bucharest, Romania on October 4, 2008. There are 30,000 stray dogs in Romania's capital according to an animal rights group, Vier Pfoten Foundation. (REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel) #

This undated handout picture taken in India shows a Fishing Cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) watching intently. (Mathieu Ourioux/AFP/Getty Images) #

Hristina Hristova, a veterinary surgeon, holds and comforts a Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus) after it was shot by poachers. The procedure took place in the wildlife rehabilitation, rescue and breeding center of Stara Zagora, east of the Bulgarian capital Sofia, Monday, Oct. 13, 2008. The center is unique in the Balkans, its goal being the rehabilitation, medical treatment, recovery and release into the wild of the rescued birds and animals. (AP Photo/Petar Petrov) #

A baby Orangutan named Isalie is seen in her enclosure, beign held by her mother, Siti in the Munich Zoo on October 7, 2008. Isalie was born in the zoo in Hellabrunn on July 14, 2008. (AP Photo/Christof Stache) #

A lion cub named Mandisa (left), watches her brother Masamba chew on a limb as the two play at the NEW Zoo on Thursday. Oct. 9, 2008 in Suamico, Wisconsin. The pair were born on July 19, 2008. (AP Photo/Green Bay Press-Gazette, Corey Wilson) #

In this photo released by the Wildlife Conservation Society, a Victoria crowned pigeon is seen at the Bronx Zoo in New York, Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2008. (AP Photo/WCS, Julie Larsen Maher) #

The Capron Park Zoo in Attleboro, Massachusetts recently acquired a rare male white lion named Ramses, seen here basking in the afternoon sunshine. He is housed with two female lionesses who are sisters and who both carry the gene for the white color form. The zoo hopes to breed the male to the females. (Michele McDonald/Globe Staff) #

Emperor Penguins are seen in an undated photograph from an exhibit titled "Irreplaceable: Wildlife in a Warming World," recently shown at the Peerless building in downtown Providence, Rhode Island. Warmer temperatures in Antarctica are causing declines in krill, one of the penguin's main food source. (Kevin Schaffer) #

In this photo released by the Wildlife Conservation Society, a Chacoan Horned frog is photogrpahed at the Bronx Zoo, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008 in New York. The Chacoan Horned frog has a unique pattern that carries over into its eye color as well. (AP Photo/WCS, Julie Larsen Maher) #

A black Persian cat stares at a judge, during an international cat beauty contest, in Bucharest, Romania on Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) #

Keyah, a baby white rhino born on October 10, 2008 and weighing 30kg, stands by its mother on October 15, 2008 at the Cerza zoo in Hermival-les-Vaux, France. The birth in captivity of white rhinos are very rare, one to two per year in Europe. (MYCHELE DANIAU/AFP/Getty Images) #

Moyo, a 3-year-old male cheetah from South Africa, chases a lure during the Cheetah Dash event at the Animal Ark in Reno, Nevada on Sunday, Sept. 21, 2008. Animal Ark runs the cheetahs regularly to keep them in good health. (AP Photo/Nevada Appeal, Kevin Clifford) #

Sangworn, a mahout (elephant driver), stands with his 13 year old elephant, Bussaba, at his temporary camp September 26, 2008 in Bangkok, Thailand. While the elephant is a symbol of Thailand, it is a fairly common site to see the unemployed and homeless animals roaming the city streets begging for food. The tame elephants dodge the traffic as their mahouts sell sugar cane by the bag to tourists who then feed them. Thai officials frown upon the practice and have passed laws banning elephants from roadways but the mahouts still come risking fines in order to survive. Elephants have been big business for the country for centuries but now they are reduced to a major tourist attraction. Elephants are trained to paint, play musical instruments, and even kick soccer balls. Until Thailand banned logging in 1989, many Asian elephants were laborers working in the jungles. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images) #