Mother Nature Network (MNN) recently reported on The Weather Channel’s new film series, entitled Brink, which highlights six eco-heroes fighting to save the world’s wildlife, including the conservation work of Panthera’s CEO, Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, to save jaguars and other big cats from the brink.
Read the Mother Nature Network interview with Dr. Rabinowitz below or on MNN’s site to learn about why he is so passionate about big cats, the state of the jaguar, what Dr. Rabinowitz wants the public to know about big cats and how they can help ensure their future, his efforts to conserve jaguars and other wild cats, and how living with a chronic disease inspires him to work harder.
MNN: Why are you so passionate about animals and jaguars in particular?
Dr. Alan Rabinowitz: My earliest friends were animals. When I found trying to speak to humans too difficult, I turned to my little pets. When my father took me to the Bronx Zoo for comfort, I gravitated to the lone jaguar in the Lion House. It seemed so out of place. As a young child first trying to speak, I could not due to stuttering blocks. .I turned to animals for comfort and as my only outlet for communication.
Do you have a background in biology?
I have college degrees in Biology and Chemistry, a masters degree in zoology, and a PhD in wildlife ecology.
What is your mission with Panthera.org and what do you hope to accomplish?
Panthera is the world’s largest wild cat conservation organization, with a staff of dynamic, passionate, and experienced scientists. They have become the voice I never had, enabling me to help keep my promise to save the jaguar and other big cats from extinction.
How close are jaguars to extinction?
The jaguars are the world’s third largest cat and, fortunately, they are not close to extinction. They are threatened in most places where they still exist but their numbers and their future outlook is much better than when compared to the tiger, lion, and perhaps even the leopard.
What do you want people to know? How can they help?
People need to care. They need to care about the policies of the governments they put into power and about issues that occur in other parts of the globe, that seemingly might not affect them. We live on a small finite planet, and the wellbeing of all living things on this small planet contribute to a healthy world. If we continue to decimate our environment and allow species to spiral into extinction, than we are endangering our own future.
How did you get involved in the “Brink” series? Do you think it will have an impact?
Neil Katz approached me about the series. I am very impressed with “Brink” and I think it reaches a significant audience. We need to get the message out that people must care.
Sorry to hear about your leukemia diagnosis. How are you doing?
I was diagnosed with CLL (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia) in 2001. It is chronic and it is slow in its progression, but there is no cure at this time. Therefore I have had no chemo or radiation until it progresses to a point that impacts my life. Until they find a cure, the prognosis is that I have perhaps many years ahead until I run out of luck.
How does your health situation impact your attitude toward life and also how you approach your mission?
I work harder and longer hours than I ever have before. I don’t know how much time is left so I burn the candle at both ends. There is no slowing down, no retirement. There are many things to get done before I can no longer do them.
What do you want your legacy to be?
The future will be in the hands of others. I would like to finish my time on this earth knowing that the tigers, lions, jaguars, leopards, and all other wild cat species are still roaming remote, wild areas of our planet, and that perhaps I played a small role in making that happen.
Watch The Weather Channel’s film, ‘A Boy’s Promise’.
Watch Canon’s short film, Man and Beast, featuring Dr. Rabinowitz.
Watch Dr. Rabinowitz’s interview on The Colbert Report.
Learn how Panthera is working to save the jaguar through the Jaguar Corridor Initiative and the Pantanal Jaguar Project.
Learn more about Dr. Rabinowitz.