World Animal Day is an international holiday where one and all can pause to celebrate, consider and aid animals. Prior to its establishment, October 4 was the feast day for Saint Francis of Assisi, who was known for his love of animals. And while it's well and good to channel all of one's animal-enabling energies into a single day, we would all do well to recognize the beauty and majesty of the animal kingdom in our everyday lives. It's frighteningly easy to take nature for granted, and to miss what's happening around you.
So let's start small with some of the toughest insects around, immortalized in badass fashion by the Stone Temple Pilots with "Army Ants." Then look up, to what's happening in the trees: the squirrels dashing and chattering (Wonder Pets' "Poor Baby Squirrel"), the birds flirting and scavenging (Wesley Willis' "The Vultures Ate My Dead Ass Up"). If that's not enough, deliverance is only as far away as your local zoo (Simon and Garfunkel's "At the Zoo") or aquarium (Philippe De Canck's "Concert for the Seaworld"). The songs that salute animals in enclosures or idling in cages are legion: The Queers' gnarly shout-out to flamingos, Moby Grape's cockatoo grooves, Animal Collective's studio-lab imagining of a manatee's undersea flight. Meanwhile, Henry Mancini's saxophone-clinic "Pink Panther Theme" is a pitch-perfect representation of that great cat's sinuousness; Ministry's "Filth Pig," perhaps inadvertently, captures the sheer baseness of swine; and noise/drone chameleons Oneida take pains to nail the eerie shrillness of the jackal with three minutes of flayed electronics and voice. There's a wild, wild world out there, full of creatures great and small -- and there's a lot to be learned about them.