Panthera is excited to announce that conservationist and former Chairman, President and CEO of IDEXX Laboratories, Jonathan Ayers, has been appointed as the organization’s new Chair of the Board of Directors. Founder of The Ayers Wild Cat Conservation Trust alongside his wife Helaine, Ayers joined Panthera’s Board of Directors in 2020 and this March pledged to devote $20 million over 10 years to wild cat conservation. Ayers led IDEXX for 17 years and oversaw tremendous growth for the veterinary diagnostics and software leader.
Panthera Founder and former Board Chair Dr. Thomas S. Kaplan will continue to serve as a Board member while taking on a new role as Chair of The Global Alliance for Wild Cats — an international coalition of environmental philanthropists committed to preserving the planet’s biodiversity through species conservation, driven by the goal of establishing an unprecedented $200 million wild cat conservation fund. Dr. Kaplan will work closely with Ayers and Panthera President and CEO Dr. Fred Launay to strengthen Panthera’s worldwide network of biologists, law enforcement experts and wild cat advocates while expanding the number of investors and partners supporting Panthera’s mission.
Panthera is tremendously thankful to Dr. Kaplan for his 15 years as Board Chair, and we look forward to together protecting and advocating for wild cats across the globe.
By Dr. Thomas S. Kaplan
Panthera Founder and Chair of The Global Alliance for Wild Cats
September 20, 2021
“Think about what we’re really giving future generations. We have to give them a world with lions and tigers and jaguars and leopards. We have to.”
Those are the words of a man I will always consider my brother, the late Dr. Alan Rabinowitz. They encapsulate perfectly what drove Alan, my wife Daphne and me to found Panthera some 15 years ago. Of course, many organizations doing admirable work to protect the planet and wildlife already existed, but wild cats needed a highly focused champion of their own. We saw ourselves ultimately taking on all of the challenges to all wild cat species — big and small. And together we agreed that there simply would be no excuses for failure. As Edward R. Murrow expressed so pointedly, and as indeed I cited in my first-ever Chairman’s Letter: “‘Difficulty’ is the one excuse that history refuses to accept.”
I have always endeavored to follow the guidance of Marcus Aurelius to not behave “as one that hath ten thousand years to live.” My business career, my human-focused philanthropy and advocacy, and my efforts to bring, as Rodin put it, “the colossus of art” Rembrandt to build bridges to new global audiences: they all pale in comparison to the pride I feel about the mission and impact of the “niche” non-profit that I started with just my wife and my greatest friend by my side. From truly humble beginnings, Panthera, now a brand name, has become the premier conservation organization in the world protecting and advocating for wild cats — from the tiniest sand cats to the mightiest tigers. From the jagged crests of Chilean Patagonia to the lush jungles of Malaysian Borneo, Panthera’s running cat logo stands for scientific excellence, a brand of conservation led by and directly benefitting local and Indigenous people and, above all, a future for the world’s most iconic species...
As we learn of and bear witness to on a daily basis, the natural world is facing precarious times. It is my strong belief that species conservation, and particularly protection of biodiversity guardians like wild cats, represents a scarcely utilized strategy to make our planet more robust and combat many human-induced challenges facing the natural world. What better species to engage with the global community to protect our planet than the charismatic wild cats of the world.
In this video, Panthera's newly appointed Board Chair Jonathan Ayers is interviewed by Mongabay Founder and CEO Rhett Butler about the role of wild cats and Panthera in protecting the planet, his favorite species, transitioning from the business world to conservation and more