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Animal lovers' calendar: Weekend of April 3-4 and beyond

April 2, 2010 |  8:18 pm

Blessing of the Animals

Whether you want to have your pet (be it a garden-variety dog or an exotic reptile) blessed by a priest or just pet a bunny, the coming days and weeks are full of events for Southern California animal lovers. We've got the details on a number of upcoming events; if you think we're missing something, let us know by leaving a comment or tweeting the details to us @LATunleashed.

This Weekend:

Friday-Sunday, April 2-4, the L.A. Zoo hosts Big Bunny's Spring Fling, an event at which zoo visitors can celebrate the humble-but-adorable rabbit. Guests can pet rabbits, learn about them and explore their world at the Bunny Discovery Zone, have their faces painted to resemble rabbits, make their own bunny ears, plant carrot seeds and enjoy a puppet show. (We certainly hope it's a rabbit-themed puppet show.) The zoo's "Big Bunny" character will also take photos with visitors for a small fee. The event is free with paid zoo admission and to Greater Los Angeles Zoo Assn. (GLAZA) members. More information at LAZoo.org.

Saturday, April 3, the American Humane Assn. asks pet owners to remember the importance of tagging and microchipping companion animals. The organization is hosting "Every Day Is Tag Day" to increase awareness about this issue. Only 15% of dogs and 2% of cats that enter U.S. animal shelters and humane societies without an identification tag or microchip are reunited with their owners, according to American Humane. Not only is that statistic scary, it's also completely preventable. Learn more about pet identification and what to do if your pet gets lost at AmericanHumane.org.

Saturday, April 3, the North Shore Animal League joins forces with the L.A. Department of Animal Services for the Tour for Life 2010 special adoption event at Venice Beach's Windward Plaza,
1800 Oceanfront Walk, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tour for Life is an annual event presented by NSAL and Purina that has helped thousands of needy pets find new homes since its inception in 2001. To see photos of adoptable pets, visit LAAnimalServices.com; for more Tour for Life dates and locations, visit NSALAmerica.org.

Saturday, April 3, the Olvera Street Merchants invite animals of all sorts to the 80th annual Blessing of the Animals ceremony at L.A.'s famous El Pueblo Historical Monument from noon to 5 p.m. A procession begins at 2 p.m., after which Cardinal Roger Mahony will begin the blessing ceremony. Animals from run-of-the-mill dogs and cats to more exotic boa constrictors and iguanas have been blessed at the ceremony in previous years. Event is free, and those without pets are also welcome to attend. More information at LACity.org.

Upcoming:

Thursday, April 8, the Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals invite California animal advocates to the California Humane Lobby Day in Sacramento. Through Humane Lobby Day, California voters can converse directly with their elected representatives about animal welfare issues in California and learn from legislators in the state's newly formed Animal Protection Caucus about ways to be a citizen advocate for animals. Event runs from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the State Capitol, located at the corner of 11th Street and L Street in Room 4202 (4th floor) in Sacramento. Advance registration is required; for more information or to register online, visit HumaneSociety.org.

Saturday, April 10, the L.A. Department of Animal Services hosts mobile pet-adoption events at Fred Hesse Jr. Memorial Park, 29301 Hawthorne Blvd. in Rancho Palos Verdes, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and at the Canoga Park Petco location, 6615 Fallbrook Mall Ave., from noon to 4 p.m.

Saturday, April 10, spcaLA invites potential "foster parents" to learn about its fostering program from 10 a.m. to noon at its South Bay Pet Adoption Center, 12910 Yukon Ave., Hawthorne. "Foster parents" are needed to care for puppies and kittens that are too young to be adopted, as well as older dogs and cats with special needs. More information at spcaLA.com. (The L.A. Department of Animal Services offers a similar program for underage puppies and kittens; more information on that program is available at the department's website.)

Saturday, April 10, spcaLA hosts PAWS to Read at the Hermosa Beach Library, 550 Pier Ave., from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Through the PAWS to Read program, children practice their reading skills by reading to a decidedly nonjudgmental audience: certified therapy dogs. Beginning and independent young readers up to age 12 are eligible to participate; the program is free, but advance registration is recommended. More information at spcaLA.com.

Sunday, April 11, the L.A. Department of Animal Services hosts mobile pet-adoption events at Moorpark Park, 12061 Moorpark Ave. in Studio City, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and at the Santa Monica Kiehl's cosmetics store location, 1516 Montana Ave., from 1 to 5 p.m.

Friday-Sunday, April 16-18, America's Family Pet Expo returns to the Orange County Fair and Event Center, 88 Fair Dr., Costa Mesa. The event features informational displays on dog breeds, adoptable animals, pet-themed vendors, a petting zoo, pony rides and demonstrations of activities such as dog grooming, K-9 police dog work and dock-diving dogs. Tickets are $12, $10 for people over age 60, $6 for children ages 6-12 and free for children 5 and younger. More information at PetExpoOC.com.

Saturday, April 17, the L.A. Zoo invites its Safari Club supporters to its Sunset Safari from 6 to 8 p.m. Beginning at 6 p.m., Safari Club members will get an up-close look at the Brazilian giant otters that debuted at the zoo last year, and have a chance to experience other wildlife species. From 6:45 to 8 p.m., guests are invited to enjoy cocktails, a buffet dinner and live music. More information at LAZoo.org.

Sunday, April 18, local rescue group New Leash on Life presents its fifth annual Nuts for Mutts 5K walk-a-thon in conjunction with the Calabasas Rotary Club and the Agoura Hills/Calabasas Community Center. The walk-a-thon is a fundraiser for New Leash on Life's work on behalf of needy pets in the L.A. area and includes pet-themed exhibits, children's activities, a canine fashion show, a dog training clinic and more animal-related activities. The walk begins at 8 a.m. at the Agoura Hills/Calabasas Community Center, 27040 Malibu Hills Road, and continues through the hills of Calabasas. Well-behaved and leashed dogs are welcome to participate. For more information or to register, visit NewLeash.org.

Saturday, April 24, spcaLA hosts PAWS to Read at the Redondo Beach Public Library, 303 N. Pacific Coast Highway, from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Participation is free; sign-up begins at 9 a.m. at the Children's Information Desk. More information at spcaLA.com.

Saturday, May 8, the L.A. Zoo invites visitors to celebrate Mother's Day with an informative presentation about motherhood in the animal kingdom. The event begins with a reception at 10:30 a.m., followed by an 11 a.m. presentation by naturalist and zoo docent Joleen Lutz. Docent-led walking tours showcasing the zoo's most interesting mothers and their offspring begin at 11:45 a.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children under 12, plus the price of zoo admission; tickets for zoo members are $10 and $5 for children under 12. For more information or to make a reservation, visit LAZoo.org.

Sunday, May 23, Best Friends Animal Society holds its annual Spring Super Adoption Festival at Westchester Park, at the intersection of Lincoln Boulevard and Manchester Avenue in Westchester, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hundreds of pets from area animal shelters and rescue groups will be on hand to meet potential adopters, and the event will give special attention to senior pets, which are often overlooked in favor of younger animals. (Take it from us, kids: Adopting a senior pet is great, particularly if said pet is already house-trained!) More information at BestFriendsEvents.net.

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County will open its newly restored 1913 Building with a brand-new "Age of Mammals" exhibition beginning July 11. The exhibition traces the history of evolution "from the extinction of the dinosaurs to the rise of humans -- within the context of epochal changes in the Earth's geology and climate," John Harris, the Natural History Museum's head of vertebrate studies and chief curator of the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits, told our sister blog Culture Monster. Visitors will get to see specimens like the Simi Valley mastodon, a saber-toothed cat and a brontothere (a species with possibly the most rock 'n' roll-sounding scientific name: "thunder beast").

Ongoing:

Through Earth Day, April 22, 2010, secondhand-clothing store chain Buffalo Exchange and the Humane Society of the United States jointly host Coats for Cubs. Animal lovers are encouraged to clean out their closets (or parents' and grandparents' closets) and donate any real-fur items found there (including fur trim, accessories and shearling) back to the animals. Of course, it's too late to give the fur back to its original owner, but it can still be used as bedding for orphaned and injured wildlife -- and it doesn't do your conscience any harm, either. Fur in any condition is accepted and can be taken to any Buffalo Exchange location. (If you'd like to claim your fur donation as a tax deduction, you'll need to mail it directly to the Humane Society rather than dropping it off at Buffalo Exchange; mailing information is available at HSUS.org.) More information at BuffaloExchange.com.

The Origins skin care store at The Shops in Mission Viejo has partnered with the Mission Viejo Animal Services Center to offer free mini-facials, gifts with purchase and a chance to win a $100 Origins shopping spree in exchange for items donated to the animal services center. Taking Origins up on this offer is simple: Just head into the retail store located on the second level of The Shops in Mission Viejo and drop off an item on the animal services center's wish list. Wish-list items include blankets, towels, newspapers, heating pads, unused collars, bottles for unweaned kittens and dog and cat toys. More information at MissionViejoLife.org.

-- Lindsay Barnett

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Photo: Cardinal Roger M. Mahony strokes a python after blessing it during Olvera Street's Blessing of the Animals ceremony in 1998. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

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