My Spring Tour 2016 began in March when I went to Australia for my first Australia tour. The tour was organized by our amazing Cheetah Conservation Fund Australia members! I started my tour in Sydney with a TV interview, a presentation at the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney and the Scots College and a meet and greet dinner. I continued my journey to Adelaide where we had a wonderful event and book signing at the Adelaide Zoo. One of my highlights of the trip was a two day cheetah workshop at the Monarto Zoo, where professionals from Australia and New Zealand came together to learn more about cheetahs.
Afterwards I headed to Melbourne where I gave a lectures at the St Monica’s College, the LaTrobe University, the Melbourne University as well as the Werribee Zoo. Besides those talks we had a great CCF cocktail event and meetings. My last stop of the Australia tour was in Perth, where I lectured at the Murdoch University and the University of Western Australia. My Australia tour ended with a great Big Cat Big Party, where our Perth cheetah friends and supporters came together. I enjoyed my time in Australia and want to thank our CCF Australia team again for putting such a great tour together!
In total, for the entire tour, I traveled to five counties, 18 states and 29 cities to fund raise, lecture and spread awareness of the endangered cheetah with our many supportive zoos, universities, and CCF chapters.
The US portion of my tour started in Northern California starting March 24 and lasted seven weeks. I had the distinct pleasure to be hosted and to lecture on 25 Years of Cheetah Conservation at the following zoos this spring: Tucson’s Reid Park Zoo, Providence’s Roger Williams Park Zoo, the Pittsburgh Zoo, the Living Desert Zoo, the Jacksonville Zoo and Busch Gardens in Tampa, FL as well as Zoo Atlanta in Georgia supported by the Explorers Club Atlanta Chapter. CCF’s special collaboration with zoos is of utmost importance and assists in educating the public on the goals of CCF and its conservation programs to save the cheetah in the wild.
Besides zoo lectures this spring, I also traveled throughout the US speaking at various universities such as UC Davis, Colorado State University, Stanford University and University of Massachusetts in Amherst. It was also wonderful to participate in Wildlife Conservation Network’s (WCN) first spring Expo in Redwood City as well as travel to Charleston, SC to speak with many veterinarians and to meet new cheetah friends.
Along the way, I enjoyed luncheons and dinners with many cheetah supporters starting off in Seattle with CCF Trustee Eric Berman, and then in Chicago with CCF Trustee Olga Pierce from Concierge Unlimited. In Boston, a unique fundraising dinner was held at the Algonquin Club supported by CCF Trustees Paola Bari and Carolyn Farquhar from Canada as well as a luncheon in Atlanta with new cheetah associates from the Friendly Human.
It was exciting this spring to have four special fundraising events throughout the US to support my 2016 tour. Three of the events had ambassador cheetahs.
In Southern California, CCF had two cheetah fundraisers starting first in the Los Angeles area of Sherman Oaks where CCF Trustees Elizabeth Marquart and Alan Feldstein hosted the 5th annual Meetah Cheetah event. Ambassador cheetah Tango from Cat Haven was a great asset to the event with special family photos offered to our many guests.
I then traveled to the Palm Springs area for a private cheetah Sundowner party in Bighorn hosted by Alice Rosenblatt and CCF Ambassador Jordan Sach from Jordan Couture with CCF Trustees Marisa Katnic and Vicki Gourley from Oklahoma City. It was a beautiful event with spectacular vistas supported by the San Diego Safari Park with ambassador cheetah Johari.
CCF held its first big fundraiser in Denver this spring with the major support of hosts Carol & Bryce McTavish and Laura & John Nachbur. The theme of the event was “All Things Cheetah” and CCF Event Coordinator, Dionne Stein, with the help of our Denver volunteers created an award winning event!
I had the pleasure of visiting Virginia with a special CCF evening cocktail party hosted by my dear friend Maggie Bryant with Louise and Carey Crane and Karen and Michael Crane at their beautiful Locust Hill Farms. It was wonderful to see all my cheetah supporters there and many new friends from the Middleburg area to join the mission of CCF.
In Washington, D.C. I met up with Sen. Jeff Flake, a co-sponsor of the END Wildlife Trafficking Bill and an old friend. He was the Director of Namibia’s Foundation for Democracy during the early 1990s. Together we briefed a packed House hearing room of Hill staffers on the impact of illegal trade on the cheetah. We were joined by our good friend Marcella Leone from the LEO Zoological Conservation Center in Greenwich, Connecticut, who brought ambassador cheetah Adaeze and her canine companion Odie to assist. Many DC media outlets covered the event, and an AP story went coast to coast, both in print and on television.
Before leaving the US, I attended a special Animal Welfare fundraiser in Westport, CT called Rescue You Rescue Me. The Master of Ceremonies was Born to Explore’s Richard Wiese as he honored Jim Fowler’s global contributions to conservation. CCF was one of the three beneficiaries for the evening and it was a thrill to speak to everyone about our programs, research and conservation mission in Africa. The LEO Zoological Conservation Park also surprised the guests with a brief visit from Director Marcella Leone and ambassador cheetah Adaeze.
After my US tour, I headed to Europe where I spent about 10 days in Italy, the UK and Germany. My Italian part of the tour was organized by Betty von Hoenning, the president of our recently registered Cheetah Conservation Fund Italy organization! I started in Ancona, where I lectured at their annual Veterinary Congress and spend a great day at the Zoo Falconara, who organized a cheetah tour and a meet and greet dinner. The next day I headed towards Verona, where I gave a cheetah talk at the Parco Natura Viva, and I ended the day with a dinner with our CCF Italy members. My last stop in Italy was at the Veterinary University in Padua, where I gave a lecture and met several of the teachers and students again, who just visited us at CCF last November.
In the United Kingdom Dr. Jane Galton, our Cheetah Conservation Fund UK Chair, organized a lot of meetings with organizations in London; for example, the Whitley Fund for Nature, United for Wildlife and Born Free, to talk more about collaborations with CCF. I also had a great dinner with our CCF UK team, where we talked about future plans for CCF UK and one of our long-term friends Deborah Illife organized a meet and greet dinner as well.
In Germany, Birgit Braun, the executive director of our German partner organization Aktionsgemeinschaft Artenschutz (AGA) e.V., organized a meet and greet dinner in Stuttgart, and another meet and greet dinner in Wasserburg, with the help of Peter and Susanne Scheufler, who are cheetah friends and some of our big supporters from Germany. I had a wonderful time in Europe and enjoyed meeting old and new cheetah friends!
All of these incredible events were made possible through the dedication and support of our CCF Board and Trustees and the local CCF chapters and volunteers and the various facilities who support CCF through their ambassador cheetah programs. I am grateful to have this continued support from everyone these many years.