Cheetah Conservation Fund and Association of Zoos and Aquariums Lead Celebration of 7th Annual international Cheetah Day, December 4th
“With fewer than 8,000 remaining in the wild, International Cheetah Day serves to remind us that cheetahs, like all wildlife, are creatures whose survival depends on human conservation action,” said Dr. Laurie Marker, Founder and Executive Director of CCF. “We must act now or we could lose the cheetah during our lifetimes. Once an animal is gone, it is gone forever. Inspiring the next generation of research scientists, ecologists and zoologists through education and awareness efforts like International Cheetah Day is necessary to prevent this amazing creature from suffering the fate of extinction.”
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.internationalcheetahday.org and ww.cheetah.org. Cheetah photos, videos and social media links are also available for download.
“Families can visit their local AZA-accredited facility to learn about the species and its plight and see these popular big cats up close,” said Dan Ashe, President and CEO of AZA. “AZA members take very seriously their obligation to support cheetah conservation efforts, investing nearly$950,000 over the past five years in conservation projects and educating thousands of zoo visitors about the threats cheetahs face. In addition, through AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE), AZA members are working with a number of organizations like Cheetah Conservation Fund to enhance their mission and generate awareness for the need to save the species. AZA members are proud to support International Cheetah Day.”
The two organizations offer suggestions for ways people can join in the International Cheetah Day celebration:
Dr. Marker is an internationally recognized 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 African farmers removing wild cheetahs from the landscape as a perceived threat. In 1990, she launched CCF and relocated to the newly-formed nation to mitigate the problem of farmer-cheetah conflict. Because of her interactions with Khayam, Dr. Marker dedicated her life to becoming the cheetah’s champion, and she chose Khayam’s birthday for this important honor.