Have you ever dreamed of throwing a huge party in honour of your pet? Or ever wanted to meet up with others who also think whales are the greatest animals on the planet?

Well, guess what, you can!

There are a huge range of animal celebrations across the globe but I’m guessing that the ones you’ve heard of are all about rituals and sacrifices or seem so inhuman that they hardly count as honouring the animal in question, right?!

Events like the Yulin Festival in China where thousands of dogs are killed and tortured or the Festival of the Ox in Brazil where a similar fate awaits the ox population.

Well you're in for a treat because I've rounded up a list of celebrations and events that not only honour your favourite animals or pets, but also help to protect them. Read on for a list of animal celebrations bound to get you excited. There’s also a helpful checklist at the end of this article to help you avoid any un-ethical animal events that you may come across.

Here are four ways to appreciate animals in their natural environment while travelling:

Migration Festivals

Great migration

These events are a perfect way to get up close to some of the world’s most incredible wildlife while letting them do their thing. Think of the great migration in Kenya and Tanzania or the annual pilgrimage of flamingos through South America, or even the Christmas Island red crab migration across the island. How incredible would it be to plan your next holiday around one of these migrations and see these animals and their movements is in full swing?

I did just this recently when I visited Hermanus in South Africa for their annual whale festival. This weekend-long celebration is the only eco-marine event in South Africa and includes local food vans, live music performances, educational talks and a whale crier who sounds his horn when Southern Right whales are spotted in Walker Bay.

Whale in Walker Bay

The best part of Hermanus is that it is situated atop the cliffs of Walker Bay, making whale watching from the shore incredibly easy to do. Simply bring your picnic blanket, camera and sunscreen and set up camp for the day with the thousands of other whale enthusiasts who clap and cheer each time a whale breaches.

Rescue or release events

Turtle release - Sri Lanka

An alternative way to join in an ethical animal celebration is by keeping an eye on your local (or international) wildlife rehabilitation centres. Sounds strange, but these centres work tirelessly to care for injured or orphaned wildlife with the direct focus being their re-release.

In some instances, volunteers or the general public are invited to a release event and the centre will celebrate the achievement with a function, educational talks and opportunities to sign up as a volunteer or donor.

The annual Alaska Bald Eagle Festival is one such event. Hosted in Haines, Alaska, the festival is a chance for eagle enthusiasts to congregate and celebrate the American national bird. Dubbed “the Valley of the Eagles”, the Chilkat Valley has the largest concentration of bald eagles throughout the USA.

Each year in November, coinciding with a late run of chum and Coho salmon, between two and four thousand bald eagles make an appearance. The festival celebrates this event with photography workshops, educational talks, live music and fundraising events over the course of a week. To top it off, rehabilitated birds from the Anchorage Bird Treatment and Learning Centre will also be released – an incredible opportunity to witness!

The next Alaska Bald Eagle Festival is scheduled for 6th – 11th November 2017 at the American Bald Eagle Foundation centre in Haines, Alaska.

Walk-a-thons

Pet walkathon

Every year local R/SPCA’s (Royal / Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), Humane Society clubs or PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) hubs host walk-a-thons or the like to help raise awareness and money for the fight for happy and healthy animals.

Most of these events encourage pet owners to bring along their pooches or kitties for a day of exercise, social interaction and tips for good pet care. The events often campaign for a particular cause with money raised going towards the work of the centre.

This is a great opportunity to join in with other like-minded animal lovers and interact with all animals great and small. Check out the Australian Million Paws Walk for more information.

How to Ethically Appreciate Animals While Travelling #travel

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Vegan Festivals

With the rise of veganism as a lifestyle choice, vegan festivals are popping up all over the world. This is the ultimate way to celebrate and embrace the animal world without any exploitation. In order for an event to carry the ‘vegan’ label, all products on offer must not contain any animal product in their creation. Once the festival is endorsed, visitors have comfort in the knowledge that no animals nor animal products are for sale.

The next big vegan event is being held in Edinburgh, Scotland on 17th November 2017. The festival features vegan food, drinks, clothes, gifts and talks. For more information, check out Vegan Festival UK.

What to watch for:

When you're looking to join in on an animal festival, run through this quick checklist to make sure the event’s heart is in the right place!

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Image source: all images are the Author's own