It happened on the afternoon of October 16th. I was in Canada on my annual fall lecture tour when I received a phone call that shook me to my core. Never have I felt so helpless. I wanted desperately to be home with my family at CCF.
Flames kindled from the lightning strike swiftly consumed the slanted, two-story roof. Staff spotted the fire and reacted instantly. They established a firebreak so the flames would not spread to the brush and surrounding buildings. Then everyone on-site worked tirelessly to safely move furniture and most of our materials. All except the closet that housed outreach eductaion and promotional items was saved. Flames persisted past midinght, and our Visitor Center was lost.
At the heart of the building was a large classroom space used for visiting school-children, community groups and our Future Farmers of Africa program. Also housed within were CCF’s Gift Shop, the Cheetah Cafe’ and its kitchen, and a staff apartment upstairs.
How you can help:
We have started rebuilding! But our insurance will only cover two-thirds of our construction costs. We need another $300,000 to complete the rebuild and outfit of the new Visitor Center.
You can support this important project by joining our one-time Phoenix Club today. As an Ember Member you will be recognized with a listing or plaque at our new Center, when you contribute $100 or more.
Some of our space is now gone, but our passion and energy remain. We are now looking at the fire as an opportunity to improve capacity for training, education and science.
Plans for the new Center include replacing and updating the old reception area, gift shop, cafe’, staff offices, and adding a lecture hall for large group farmer training and community programs. We have also begun construction of new staff housing on nearby grounds. These simple yet private quarters will significantly enhance the living conditions for CCF staff.
Even more improvements are in the works.
- We’ve planned for future installation of solar panels on the Visitor Center’s roof. (We are curently seeking donations to acquire the panels. If you would like to help with this specifically, please let us know.)
- The new Center will showcase our Genetics Lab. Moving the lab to this new location will provide visitors with an inside look at CCF research projects in action. It will also increase our capacity for teaching, mentoring and facilitating more visiting scientists.
Help us turn this devastating event into an opportunity for growth. I’m passionate about rebuilding a safe, environmentally friendly Visitor Center for our staff and community members to do what they do best – protect the cheetah, and its ecosystem.
Thank you for being a part of our Phoenix Club. Our staff and cheetahs thank you.
Founder and Executive Director