St. Francis Day in Lithuania

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2003:

VILNIUS, Lithuania– Dr. Albina Aniuliene, who revived the
Lithuanian Society for the Protection of Animals in 1991 after a
decades-long hiatus, and U.S.-educated Ben Noreikis, DVM, of
Kauna, believe animal advocates in a small nation should think big.
Lithuania has approximately the same human population as
Chicago. Therefore, Noreikis told ANIMAL PEOPLE, they reasoned
that if they could organize an event that if done in Chicago would
warrant TV coverage, in Lithuania it could become a national
celebration.
With the help of State Food and Veterinary Service chief Dr.
Kazimieras Lukauskas, Aniuliene and Noreikis proclaimed St. Francis
of Assisi Day, October 4, to be Compassion Day in Lithuania.
“On this day,” they declared, “animals are not to be
slaughtered, loaded, or transported to be killed, hunted, fished,
experimented upon, nor euthanized at shelters unless deemed
necessary by a physician or veterinarian” to relieve incurable pain.
“Draft horses, circus animals, and other working animals
are to be given a day of rest,” they added.


Said Noreikis, “The day was launched at 6:00 a.m. on the
national TV early morning program, followed by numerous radio shows
and alerts in the newspapers. Already more than 2,000 children were
preparing to visit the National Zoo,” bringing treats for the
animals.
Alma Adamkeine, the First Lady of Lithuania, greeted the
children at the Zoo School, a facility funded by Naturewatch of
Britain. Zoo director Vaclovas Dumcius was official host of the
day’s events.
The LiSPA, chartered in 1873, unveiled a 60-page humane
education curriculum that is expected to be adopted soon by the
Minister of Education, to be taught in all 2000 Lithuanian
elementary schools.
“On this special day,” the 6:00 a.m. broadcast said, “we
want all Lithuanians to reflect on the importance of animals and the
social and economic benefits that they bring to the people,
reminding all to follow St. Francis’ example. We want to highlight
the moral obligation that we all have to ensure that animals are not
treated cruelly.”
Repeated several times during the day, the message offered
specific appreciations of cattle, horses, hens, cats, dogs, and
wildlife.

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