Published On: Wed, Feb 4th, 2015

Olympian Anna Fenninger joins Nat Geo’s Big Cats initiative

As Austrian Olympic champion Anna Fenninger prepares for the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Vail, Colorado, this week, she also takes on the role of a “big cat champion” to support and promote the work of National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative (BCI).

Fenninger, the 2014 Winter Olympics alpine ski racing champion and overall 2014 World Cup winner, is dedicated to wildlife conservation efforts around the world. In her role as European Ambassador for the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), she has raised awareness for the plight of the cheetah through a video and calendar shoot in Namibia. Fenninger’s Olympic helmet was donated to the CCF to be on permanent display at the CCF visitor center in Namibia.

Fenninger’s interest in wild cheetah conservation has extended to protection of other big cat species, including lions. Her research in the area led her to National Geographic’s BCI, which was launched in 2009 to help combat the decline of big cats in the wild through on-the-ground conservation projects, education and a global public awareness campaign called CauseAnUproar.org. Big cat populations around the world are in serious decline; some species are facing the real possibility of going extinct.

Anna Fenninger joins "Big Cat Initiative" photo/ Kampa/Kettner courtesy of National Geographic

Anna Fenninger joins “Big Cat Initiative” photo/ Kampa/Kettner courtesy of National Geographic

In her new role as a big cat champion, Fenninger will help raise awareness for BCI with her active participation in BCI’s Build a Boma campaign, a peer-to-peer fundraising initiative to help build bomas, which are fortified enclosures/fences that have been shown to save lions by keeping them away from livestock. Protecting livestock from predation helps protect big cats from retaliatory killings.

Fenninger is challenging her sponsors to help her build bomas to make a tangible difference in big cat conservation. She also encourages her fans to start their own Build a Boma campaigns at buildaboma.org, so they too can get involved in the cause.

Fenninger said: “I am a dedicated cat enthusiast, from my house cat to the big cats in the wild. Therefore, it is my honor to be part of National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative and to help to ensure a living space for human and animals in peaceful coexistence.”

Alexander Moen, vice president, National Geographic Explorer Programs, said: “We are thrilled to have Anna Fenninger join the Big Cats Initiative as our first European big cat champion. We no longer have the luxury of time when it comes to saving big cats, so it is inspiring to see Anna take action in support of these magnificent creatures. Anna’s passion and leadership in the Build a Boma campaign will directly help protect big cats in the wild.”

About the Big Cats Initiative

With a mission to inspire, illuminate and teach, the 127-year-old National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. The member-supported Society, which believes in the power of science, exploration and storytelling to change the world, reaches more than 600 million people worldwide each month through its media platforms, products and events. National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative (BCI) was founded in 2009 with Explorers-in-Residence, filmmakers and conservationists Dereck and Beverly Joubert as a long-term effort to halt the decline of big cats in the wild. BCI supports efforts to save big cats through assessment activities, on-the-ground conservation projects, education and a global public-awareness campaign, “Cause an Uproar,” launched in partnership with Nat Geo WILD. For more information, visit CauseAnUproar.org.

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