Renowned Actresses and Conservationists Glenn Close and Jane Alexander to Chair Panthera’s Conservation Council Comprised of Leaders from the Arts, Business, Politics, Media, and Military
August 23, 2017
New York, NY – Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization, today announced that it has convened more than 60 of the most respected figures from the worlds of business, law enforcement, government, fashion, media, entertainment, tourism, the military, and the arts in its Conservation Council, a global advisory board.
In a commitment of service unprecedented in the conservation community for its diverse scope and potential impact on the preservation of the world’s wild cats and their critical ecosystems, influential leaders in multiple fields, including Jeremy Irons, General David Petraeus, Sir Norman Rosenthal, and artist Maya Lin, have joined forces to save the world’s most charismatic wildlife.
Glenn Close and Jane Alexander, renowned stars of stage and screen and committed conservationists, will chair the Conservation Council, which, with its collective reach and influence, creates a conservation juggernaut to be unleashed on saving the world’s vanishing wild cats and their landscapes.
Ms. Close said, “For the millions of people around the globe who refuse to envision a future without wild cats and the wild places they need to thrive, we have Panthera. I am so proud to be a part of this wonderful organization that is standing squarely between big cats and the perilous threats they face—a global protective force that is turning the tide for our most iconic and vulnerable species. It's no wonder that Panthera has attracted so many leading figures to its cause; they know that you must be smart and fearless to confront and solve the world’s most intractable challenges and Panthera is both.”
Ms. Alexander added, “When we think of freedom, when we envision the great predators that roam the forests, the mountains and the savannahs, the tiger comes to mind, the lion, the jaguar and the leopard. It is thrilling to share our planet with them. And as top predators they keep it in balance.
But all wild cats today are threatened by human incursion, every single one of them, and some are on the brink of extinction. Panthera works to save them through keeping their habitats intact, ending poaching, and ensuring healthy genetics for future generations. I am proud to be helping this remarkable organization. If there is a future for great cats it is in the hands of Panthera and its partners globally.”
Members of the Conservation Council provide Panthera with actionable advice on a wide variety of topics fundamental to the growth and development of the organization, including strategy and operational planning, communications, and expansion of Panthera’s network. The Council members’ global reach into the worlds of public policy, media, and entertainment will serve to extend Panthera’s message to new audiences and open up new avenues of support.
Dr. Thomas Kaplan, Chairman of Panthera’s Board of Directors, said, “Panthera is extremely humbled and fortunate to have access to the wide-ranging and deep expertise of this august body of individuals. Though diverse in their vocations, geographies, and worldviews, they are united by their shared optimism that together we can change the course of cat conservation and realize the cascading benefits on all species that come from saving the “umbrella species” that the cats represent in their critical landscapes. We are extraordinarily grateful for their selfless commitment to Panthera’s mission and know that our efforts to protect wild cats around the world will benefit greatly from their guidance and collective passion.”
Among the Council’s members are some of the most notable names in their respective fields, including singer Shania Twain and leading conservationists Kris Tompkins, former CEO of Patagonia, as well as Fashion Week founder Fern Mallis, author Wilbur Smith, ProPublica’s Andrew Revkin, the BBC’s Kate Silverton, and MSNBC political analyst Nicolle Wallace, to name a few.
Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, CEO of Panthera, said, “It’s a testament to the universal allure of wild cats, and the urgency of their plight, that we are able to convene this extraordinary gathering of minds. Gratefully, we look forward to drawing upon their talents to increase our impact and advance our mission.”
Hermès Artistic Director, Pierre-Alexis Dumas, said, “Panthera’s commitment to rigorous science, and their unique understanding of man’s complex relationship with big cats, promises hope for these iconic animals.”
Appointees to the Conservation Council are voted on to the Council by Panthera’s Board of Directors for their ability to provide valuable expertise and guidance that complements the skills of Panthera’s boards and staff. Panthera is also guided by its Scientific Council, made up of some of the world’s leading cat biologists, which advises the organization on science and policy matters.
Award-winning Singer and Songwriter and Panthera Global Leopard Ambassador, Shania Twain, said, "The image and spirit of the leopard is an inspiration to millions around the world, including myself. I feel privileged to give back to a creature that depends for its future on what we do now to save it… and I urge the wider world to join Panthera and me in this mission."
Panthera, founded in 2006, is devoted exclusively to preserving wild cats and their critical role in the world’s ecosystems. Panthera’s team of leading biologists, law enforcement experts, and wild cat advocates develop innovative strategies based on the best available science to protect cheetahs, jaguars, leopards, lions, pumas, snow leopards and tigers and their vast landscapes. In 36 countries around the world, Panthera works with a wide variety of stakeholders to reduce or eliminate the most pressing threats to wild cats - securing their future, and ours. Visit Panthera.org.
Conservation Council Members:
“It is standard in this horrific industry to separate babies from their mothers, and then discard them when they grow too big for handling.” Born Free USA CEO
Washington, D.C., April 5, 2016 -- In response to a 2012 legal petition filed by Born Free USA, The Humane Society of the United States, World Wildlife Fund, Detroit Zoological Society, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Big Cat Rescue, Fund for Animals, and Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued guidance making clear that exhibitors violate the Animal Welfare Act by allowing members of the public to handle or feed infant exotic cats like tigers, lions, cheetahs, jaguars, or leopards.
According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and Born Free Foundation, “The insatiable demand for cubs and baby primates used at interactive exhibits fuels a vicious cycle of breeding and exploitation. It is standard in this horrific industry to separate babies from their mothers, and then discard them when they grow too big for handling. The USDA's most recent policy decision is a step toward addressing these concerns, but still does not do enough to protect the young big cats, bears, and primates suffering for profit around the nation."
As documented in the petition, dozens of facilities across the country routinely breed and acquire exotic feline species—all of which are listed under the Endangered Species Act—to produce an ample supply of cubs for profit.
“We applaud USDA for taking this first step to put roadside zoos and the public on notice that federal law prohibits using infant cubs for photographic opportunities and interactive experiences,” said Anna Frostic, senior attorney for wildlife & animal research at The Humane Society of the United States, “but it is imperative that the agency take additional action to prohibit public contact with big cats, bears, and nonhuman primates of any age.”
“Both animals and people are put in harm’s way when big cats are used for public contact exhibition; young cubs are particularly susceptible to disease, especially when deprived of necessary maternal care, and cubs quickly grow into dangerous predators that can cause serious injury to adults and children,” said Jeff Flocken, North America regional director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
In contrast to zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, “there are thousands of big cats in private menageries in the U.S., and these facilities do not have the resources or expertise to safely and responsibly care for dangerous wild animals,” said Ron Kagan, executive director and CEO of the Detroit Zoological Society.
Conservation professionals agree that endangered and threatened species like tigers, lions, and apes should not be bred for commercial purposes.
The mass propagation of tigers in the U.S. has resulted in a captive population that is nearly twice the number of tigers that exist in the wild. “Cubs used for petting, if they survive, typically spend many years living in substandard facilities and the few who are lucky enough to eventually end up at good sanctuaries typically arrive with medical issues caused by deficient care,” said Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue.
In addition to these animal welfare, public safety, and conservation concerns, “the surplus of exotic animals in roadside zoos and other substandard facilities puts an enormous financial burden on the accredited sanctuaries that provide lifetime care for abandoned and seized animals,” according to Michael Markarian, president of The Fund for Animals.
Investigations have revealed that using tiger cubs for photo ops and play sessions can yield more than $20,000 per month for a roadside zoo, fueling demand for more and more cubs—but once the cats mature, their future is uncertain. “There is just not enough space or resources at accredited sanctuaries to support the demand created by this irresponsible breeding,” said Kellie Heckman, executive director of Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.
Further, “the fate of captive tigers in the U.S. has serious implications for the conservation of tigers in the wild,” said Leigh Henry, senior policy advisor for Wildlife Conservation at World Wildlife Fund. “Strengthened regulation of U.S. captive tigers will help ensure that captive-bred tiger parts don’t enter the black market and stimulate the demand that drives the poaching of wild tigers.”
While there is still much more work to be done to fully address the coalition’s petition to completely prohibit public contact with big cats, bears, and nonhuman primates of any age, this is a significant step forward for the U.S. to improve its oversight of captive tigers and lead by example to encourage other countries, like China, to reduce the demand for tigers and tiger products.
Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to North America the message of “compassionate conservation”—the vision of the United Kingdom-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son, Will Travers. Born Free’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at www.bornfreeusa.org, www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.
Fierce Beauty Celebrates Endangered Wild Cats with Stunning Photography
SAN RAFAEL, CA, October 2012 – Fierce Beauty is a vibrant photographic celebration of the beauty, power, and grace of the tigers, leopards, lions, ocelots, and other wild cats that inhabit the Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (TIGERS). This wildlife preserve in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is home to more than one hundred rare animals, from ligers (a hybrid cross between a male lion and a tigress) that stretch nearly twelve feet long to cheetahs capable of running seventy miles per hour.
The intimate photographs in Fierce Beauty showcase these spectacular creatures in a natural setting, revealing their vibrant form and striking personalities and highlighting their significance in the world and the importance of protecting them. The more than three hundred images in Fierce Beauty, which artfully capture playful, tender, and imposing moments with wild cats, are accompanied by essays by such animal-rights luminaries as zoologist and TV personality Jim Fowler and Dakota Zoo director Terry Lincoln, among others, and a foreword by renowned actor and activist Robert Duvall. Discover what makes these animals unique cohabitants of mankind with dozens of exclusive never-before-seen portraits from preeminent nature photographers Tim Flach and Barry Bland.
Fierce Beauty is a treat for wildlife enthusiasts, cat lovers, and photography buffs of all stripes. Proceeds from the book help fund the preservation efforts of the Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (TIGERS).
Bhagavan Antle is the director of the TIGERS wildlife preserve in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and the founder of the Rare Species Fund, which supports animal conservation projects around the world.
Robert Duvall is an American actor and director, starring in some of the most acclaimed and popular films and TV shows of all time. He and his wife, Luciana Pedraza, are active supporters of Pro Mujer, a nonprofit charity organization dedicated to helping Latin America’s poorest women, and of efforts to preserve endangered species, particularly tigers.
Tim Flach, best-selling author of Dog’s Gods and Equus, is a photographer best known for his highly conceptual portraits of animals. His images of animals are a departure from traditional wildlife photography, and he has been described as “a potent example of a commercially trained photographer who’s now reaching a global audience through the boom in fine art photography.” His clients include the Sunday Times, Cirque du Soleil, Sony, Hermès, and the Locarno International Film Festival. His images have twice been featured on UK Royal Mail stamps, and his fine art prints are represented in London by the Osborne Samuel gallery. Leading organizations and publications, including the Association of Photographers, American Photo, Photo District Annual, Communication Arts, Creative Review, and Design & Art Direction, have repeatedly honored Flach. He is the recipient of the International Photography Awards Professional Photographer of the Year.
Barry Bland is an internationally acclaimed photographer specializing in photography of animals both wild and tame. Barry’s work regularly appears in UK newspapers, including the Daily Mail, the Sun, Daily Telegraph, and Independent. In the U.S. he has been published in the New York Post, New York Daily News, and In Touch and People magazines, and his photos have appeared on Oprah, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Good Morning America, Inside Edition, and ABC and NBC news.