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cheetah

This post was written by CCF founder & executive director Dr. Laurie Marker

It has been more than four years since my best cheetah friend Chewbaaka passed away. Each year, CCF has honored his memory with a fundraising appeal in his name, the Chewbaaka Memorial Challenge. Thanks to your support, we’ve been able to continue our research, education and conservation efforts with great success, but we need your help again this year.

Every gift made to CCF between now and August 31, 2015 will be DOUBLED thanks to the exceptional generosity of our Chewbaaka Challengers, a group of core donors who have agreed to match funds raised through this campaign up to $225,000. This amount is $25,000 over last year’s Challenge, in recognition of our milestone 25th Anniversary. Please make a generous gift to CCF before August 31 so we can maximize this amazing opportunity and continue our programs to save the wild cheetah.

Dr. Laurie Marker and Namibian school children meeting Chewbacca, an adult male cheetah that was orphaned as a small cub and raised by Dr. Marker. (Photo: © Suzi Eszterhas)

Dr. Laurie Marker and Namibian school children meeting Chewbacca, an adult male cheetah that was orphaned as a small cub and raised by Dr. Marker. (Photo: © Suzi Eszterhas)

Although Chewbaaka is no longer with us, he has left behind a great legacy. I am both excited and proud to report that Chewbaaka’s genome will be used as the cheetah reference for future genetic research done on cheetahs, including here at CCF’s Applied Biosystems Conservation Genetics Lab! Our research collaborators are working tirelessly to map Chewbaaka’s genome sequence, which we anticipate will be published in a scientific journal later this year. This is yet another incredible advancement in cheetah science.

The cheetah is one of the first wild animal species to be sequenced through the Genome 10K Project. Like the human genome that was sequenced over a decade ago, Chewbaaka’s genome sequence helps us understand the genetic make-up of the cheetah and develop new tools to learn more about the cheetah’s health and evolutionary history – such as what disease it may be susceptible to – and much, much more. The cheetah is one of the first vulnerable and endangered species to be studied genetically and serves as a primary example illustrating the importance of genetics in conservation.

I’m also excited to report that our genetics lab will soon be moved to a new home in our recently re-built Visitor Centre. The centralized location within the heart of CCF will allow visitors to observe the research being conducted there.

The new Visitor Centre is a larger and more modern facility than its predecessor. The services housed in the Centre include an improved reception area inside our new Cheetah Gift Shop, Cheetah Café, classrooms and staff offices. It also houses the First National Bank Conference Room. This meeting space is also a lecture hall for large group training and a place to hold community events. Your ongoing support has helped make all of this possible!

Though Chewbaaka is no longer with us, his spirit lives on through the research we conduct and programs we administer to benefit all cheetahs. I hope you’re as excited as I am about our news and what the future may bring, but we very much need your support today to continue our mission. Please make a contribution to CCF before August 31, 2015 so your gift will DOUBLE in size to make twice the difference! This is a wonderful way to honor the memory of Chewbaaka, the world’s most famous cheetah ambassador, and support our efforts to save the species for future generations.

Double Your Gift

Thanks for your continuing and ongoing support.

(This article originally appeared on CCF. It has been reprinted here with permission.)

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