Cheetah Conservation Fund and Association of Zoos and Aquariums Join to Present 6th Annual International Cheetah Day
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec. 1, 2016) – Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), the world’s longest running cheetah research, education and conservation organization, is partnering with the U.S.-based Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) to lead the sixth annual observance of International Cheetah Day this Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. Developed to generate awareness for the cheetah -- Africa’s most endangered big cat -- the two organizations are offering activities to inspire people of all ages to celebrate this feline icon of speed and grace. International Cheetah Day is also intended to educate young learners about the species’ plight through school projects and zoo talks, as well as inspire entire families to get involved with conservation efforts.
“International Cheetah Day serves to remind us that the cheetah, like all wildlife, is a treasure of our planet and its survival depends on human conservation action,” said Dr. Laurie Marker, Founder and Executive Director of CCF. “The fate of cheetahs rests with us and the next generation. The species has survived more than three million years through the Ice Age and a genetic bottleneck, only to have its numbers decimated by almost 90 percent in the last century. Unless we act now, we may lose the cheetah during our lifetimes.”
CCF and AZA are encouraging zoos and schools around the world to help spark young people’s interest in conservation by recognizing International Cheetah Day with cheetah-themed activities and classroom lessons. Teaching and outreach materials, including a downloadable activities packet designed for elementary-aged schoolchildren and a PowerPoint presentation with notes, can be accessed through CCF’s websites, www.cheetah.org and www.internationalcheetahday.org. Cheetah photos, videos and social media links are also available for download.
“Not many people have the chance to visit Africa to see cheetahs in person, but they can visit their local AZA-accredited facility to see these and other big cats up close,” said Kris Vehrs, Interim President and CEO of AZA. “AZA members take very seriously their obligation to cheetah conservation, investing nearly $1.6 million in cheetah conservation efforts over the past five years and educating thousands of guests on the plight of the cheetah. In addition, through AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE), AZA members are working with a variety of organizations like Cheetah Conservation Fund to focus resources and raise awareness about why saving cheetahs is important. International Cheetah Day is one day AZA members are proud to support!”
The two organizations also offer suggestions for ways people can celebrate International Cheetah Day:
CCF’s Dr. Marker is internationally recognized as a foremost expert on the cheetah. She designated Dec. 4 as International Cheetah Day in remembrance of Khayam, a cheetah she raised from a cub at Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon. Dr. Marker brought Khayam to Namibia to determine if captive-born cheetahs could be taught to hunt. Their efforts were successful and eventually the pair returned to Oregon. But during this trip, Dr. Marker witnessed wild cheetahs being exterminated by African farmers. In 1990, she launched CCF and permanently relocated to the newly-formed nation to mitigate conflict. Because of her experience with Khayam, Dr. Marker dedicated her life to becoming the cheetah’s champion, and she chose Khayam’s birthday for this important honor.
Association of Zoos & Aquariums
Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and eight other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. Members of AZA are leaders in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit www.aza.org.
CCF’s Conservation Passport, Activity Packet, cheetah photos, videos and social media links can be downloaded for free at www.internationalcheetahday.com
Dr. Laurie Marker, CCF Founder and Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan Yannetti, CCF External Relations Manager; email@example.com or 202.716.7756