Love Your Animal

Love Your Animal
- Mackerel commemorates World Animal Day, 04 October

02 October 2016

Where would we be without our animals?

In the loony bin, probably.

World Animal Day is celebrated on 04 October, which also happens to be the feast day of St Francis of Assisi, animal whisperer of yore.

Animals haul our loads, plough our fields, guard our abodes and heal our emotional wounds.

They also lay splat on our dinner plates, even amidst complaints of the animals’ heads or feet being served alongside the rest of the carcass.

“Oh, I can’t have that looking at me while I eat it! That’s just gross!”

Such bigoted complaining is a slappable offence.

Animals are also our toys and tools of entertainment. The pampered house pet – or companion animal – is fortunate; the circus animal, fighting dog, dancing street monkey, racehorse or polo pony, not so.

If animals are such an instrinsic part of our existence, why do we treat them so badly? Why aren’t we kinder to them?

Tis the human condition, is it not?

There is no answering the unanswerable but there is plenty to be said for the good that many people around the world do for animals.

Choice hashtags: #WorldAnimalDay, #loveyouranimal, #elephantnaturepark, #pitbullflowerpower, #CAS, #adoptdontshop #rescue, #CWS, #SOSD


This is one of the few ardent animal welfare NGOs in Singapore that work tirelessly to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome stray and abandoned companion animals.

In a Singapore that increasingly teeters on the vulgar, everything is a buy-and-throw-away commodity – shoes, Labrador puppies that are no longer puppies, handbags, PS4 consoles, guinea pigs, IKEA bookshelves, hamsters, tennis rackets, old sickly cats that owners cannot be bothered to care for.

We must thank the heavens for these compassionate folks who run the animal shelters, feed the community cats and blow the whistle on illegal animal breeders.

If not for them, Singapore would be completely soul-less. 


The main mission of this sanctuary, which is set in the lush mountain greenery of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, is to protect, rescue and rehabilitate captive Asian elephants.  Tourism is a major contributor to animal welfare issues in the country and many of the elephants here were mistreated as they laboured for tourists on their “exotic elephant treks” through the jungle.

Elephants aside, the sanctuary is also home to many other rescue animals including dogs, cats, pigs, buffaloes and birds.

According to Leslie Kok who has been a visitor-volunteer with the sanctuary for more than five years, each guest hut comes with its own resident animal. Nothing orchestrated about this, but it makes perfect sense; where else would the animals sleep otherwise?

Kok adds, “Each time I was there, I saw marked improvements in various areas. For example, newly rescued elephants looked healthier both physically and mentally, settled in their self-selected family units; elephants with serious disabilities like Medo with a very distorted back and bad limp having much better mobility and Malai Tong, the landmine victim with an improved gait thanks to regular veterinary care and treatment for her busted foot. In a country where trekking camps and elephant shows are a dime a dozen, it is very heartwarming to see that there are still some places in Thailand where one can get up close and personal with these gentle giants in a more natural environment, behaving the way they would as in the wild.”

Kok, a Buddhist vegan, designs and hand-makes her own line of jewellery. All photos of Elephant Nature Park used for this story are Kok's.


While scrolling through Instagram, we chanced upon photographs of pitbulls adorned with flower wreaths and became instant fans of the Pitbull Flower Power campaign.

The woman behind this is New York-based award-winning French photographer, Sophie Gamand.

Gamand explains, “I believe our relationship to dogs speaks volumes about the kind of society we are. And in the US, there are millions of animals in the shelter system (1.2 million dogs are euthanised every year). As an artist and member of the community, I knew I had to try and do something. I have always wanted to revolutionise the way shelter dogs were photographed and perceived. Six years ago, I started bringing a small studio set-up to shelters around the city, and photographing homeless dogs in sexy light, with colourful, happy background, celebrating their unique personality and beauty. Most shelters had terrible, sad, dirty portraits of their animals. To me, an adoption portrait is a promise. It’s the promise that you are about to meet your best friend. It’s also a celebration: these dogs leave a world of neglect and abuse, and enter a world of care and love. I wanted to celebrate that passage, their unique looks and personality.

“With pit bulls, it’s even more paramount because they have such a bad reputation…There is a lot of work to be done, to educate people about them, but also about the importance of spaying and neutering, and adopting dogs in general instead of purchasing them.”

Gamand recently completed her first solo exhibition of her Flower Power pieces on 25 September in Brooklyn.

All photos for this segment of the story and the cover photo are by Sophie Gamand.


1.     Causes For Animals | @causesforanimal_sg

Cat Welfare Society:


2.     Elephant Nature Park | @elephantnaturepark

3.     Pitbull Flower Power | @SophieGamand

4.     Related story: 



PS: Chubs is our old sickly cat and we will, indeed, love him to death.

Photo: Marc Nair