Actor and activist Leonardo DiCaprio has joined with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to announce the launch of Animal Action Week, an annual global initiative to educate and empower children around the world to stand up, speak out and help save animals. Now in its 18th year, Animal Action Week runs through Sunday, October 10, 2010.
This year's theme, Born to be Wild, highlights the alarming plight of tigers, which are on the brink of extinction in the wild. Habitat loss and poaching have reduced worldwide wild tiger populations from about 100,000 in 1900 to as few as 3,000 today.
"Tigers are dangerously close to vanishing forever," said Mr. DiCaprio, an IFAW Honorary Board Member. "If we don't want our children to grow up in a world where tigers are extinct, the time for action is now."
Animal Action Week kicks off an international education and youth outreach program that reaches more than five million children worldwide. This year's tiger theme coincides with the Year of the Tiger on the Chinese lunar calendar, and is aligned with the U.N. International Year for Youth (August 2010-2011), which calls on the world community to give young people a chance to actively participate in decision-making on local, national and global issues.
In conjunction with the U.N. initiative, the Animal Action program earlier this year launched a global campaign - Roar! Youth Voices for Tigers - which gave young people around the world the opportunity to send in various types of multimedia messages about tigers and why they should be saved. The messages were used to create a video presentation that represents one collective Roar! for action. It will be shown to world leaders at an event in St. Petersburg during the Global Tiger Summit, where they hope to agree on a joint strategy to save wild tigers from extinction.
"We are proud to join forces with Leonardo DiCaprio once again in our global mission to safeguard animals in crisis, like tigers, and to protect the habitat we all share," said Fred O'Regan, President of IFAW. "His steadfast commitment is vital in our efforts to educate and empower the conservation leaders of tomorrow around the globe."
Photo credit: cc: flickr.com/photos/chaubaby