Washington, D.C. – The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) and the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), the longest-running research, education and conservation organization dedicated to saving the wild cheetah, are leading the seventh annual observance of International Cheetah Day on Monday, Dec. 4, 2017.
What began as a day to generate awareness for the plight of the cheetah -- Africa’s most endangered big cat – International Cheetah Day has become an occasion for all people around the world to celebrate this unique feline icon of speed and grace. International Cheetah Day has also become an opportunity to educate young learners about the importance of conservation through school projects and zoo talks and to encourage entire families to get involved with local conservation initiatives.
“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 www.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:
1. Learn about cheetahs – click here and scroll down the page to see our cheetah facts.
2. Participate in one of the ICD events listed on our site here.
3. Wish everyone you meet a very “Happy International Cheetah Day!”
4. Get yourself a Save The Cheetah International Cheetah Day shirt from CCF’s Bonfire fundraising campaign.
5. Read Freeda The Cheetah by Picklefish Press! The Kindle version is free to download on Amazon.
6. Download the Conservation Passport. When you finish the activities, print out your very own Certificate of Cheetah Achievement!
7. Join the conversation on Twitter by using hashtags #Loud4Cheetahs, #SaveTheCheetah, & #IntlCheetahDay. Use our Tweet Sheet to send tweets simply and easily. Just log in to your Twitter account and then open the Tweet Sheet. Click the TWEET button to instantly post to your Twitter page.
8. Share a cheetah image on your social media profile for the day, week or month.
9. Share this special International Cheetah Day video message from TV’s Born to Explore host Richard Wiese.
10. Visit the places where cheetahs live. Visit an AZA-accredited zoo on December 4th or plan to visit Africa (many conservation organizations gladly accept volunteers and interns). There are conservation organizations working in research facilities, around the world and in the field, to help save the cheetah. They need YOUR help, so please consider donating to one of the organizations that is making a difference TODAY!
CCF’s Conservation Passport, Activity Packet, cheetah photos, videos and social media links can be downloaded for free at www.cheetah.org/international-cheetah-day/ or www.internationalcheetahday.org.
Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums 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. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit www.aza.org.
About Cheetah Conservation Fund
Founded in Namibia in 1990, Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) is the global leader in research and conservation of cheetahs. CCF is dedicated to saving the cheetah in the wild. CCF’s mission is to be the internationally recognized center of excellence in the conservation of cheetahs and their ecosystems. CCF will work with all stakeholders to develop best practices in research, education, and land use to benefit all species, including people. CCF is an international non-profit organization headquartered in Namibia, with operations in the United States, Canada, Australia, Italy, Belgium and the United Kingdom, and partner organizations in several other nations. For more information, visit www.cheetah.org.
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.
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