Probably never? Well, here’s a reason to celebrate: The bison was recently named the national mammal of the United States by President Obama! The law he signed—the National Bison Legacy Act—doesn’t offer any new protections to bison (also known as buffalo), but it does raise their status to that of an official symbol of America, similar to the bald eagle.
This is a long-overdue and important recognition for the bison, an icon of America and revered symbol of Native Americans that once roamed in the millions but then was nearly decimated by the end of the 1800s. But thanks to early conservationists, including President Teddy Roosevelt, bison bounced back—and today they’re even off the endangered species list! In case you missed it, National Bison Day this year fell on November 5 (the first Saturday of November).
Have I mentioned how much I love sloths? One of my dreams, in fact, is one day to share Reiki with a sloth. (If only I could be so lucky!)
I have sloths on the mind because October 20, my dear friends, is International Sloth Day. Woo! This special day was created six years ago by the AIUNAU Foundation in Colombia, which helps sloths and other animals that are either injured or the victims of illegal wildlife trafficking—with the goal of rehabilitating the animals and then releasing them back into the wild.
Though a majority of scientists today agree that animals are sentient, that hasn’t stopped outmoded beliefs from persisting. This editorial published by Psychology Today claimed (in basic terms) that animals don’t speak, laugh, cry, think, get depressed, fall in love or have spiritual experiences. (We’ve all met people like this; the essayist isn’t alone in his beliefs.) Luckily, a few weeks later, Mark Beckoff—author, scientist and behavioral ecologist—followed up with his own essay, knocking down each one of these misguided statements.
Why do so many people continue to discount the worth of an animal’s life? Perhaps because “going there”—where your food come from, where your makeup, handbags and fancy leather couches originate—is too painful and awkward to face. But the truth about animal sentience is out there for those who will listen:
As caregivers for our animals, we work hard to keep them healthy—with vet visits, healthy food, regular brushings and the like. But sometimes we forget that they, too, can show us important ways to stay healthy and happy every day. Here are 12 animal habits you need to emulate:
1. Exercise each day. Animals are masters at sitting around and chilling (see #2), but they also find joy in keeping their heart rates up. Hamsters run in their wheels, cats tear through the house like buffalos, and dogs bring their leash to you in their mouth. They remind us that exercise isn’t just healthy, but it can be fun, too.
Tomorrow is April 22—and millions of people worldwide will come together to celebrate Earth Day, the annual event born in 1970 to highlight support for important environmental causes. Will you be celebrating? You can do a Google search to find local Earth Day events near you, or even search this map on the official Earth Day website for ideas.
Since we share our planet with animals, I’m going to celebrate Earth Day tomorrow by spreading happiness to animals. How am I going to accomplish that, you may ask? Here are 10 fun ways: