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Ayers Foundation Gives $20 Million to Protect Wild Cats

Former Idexx chief Jonathan Ayers calls wild cat conservation “a very tangible cause.”

Ayers Foundation Gives $20 Million to Protect Wild Cats
An African lion, left, and a California bobcat are among dozens of species of wild cats.

Former Idexx Laboratories executive Jonathan Ayers has pledged at least $20 million through his foundation to support the preservation of wild cats of all sizes, from lions and cheetahs to bobcats and ocelots.

Ayers, who stepped down as a day-to-day Idexx leader in October 2019, joins a number of other environmental philanthropists who each pledged similar amounts to fund a conservation effort led by Panthera’s Global Alliance for Wild Cats.

“Wild cat conservation is a very tangible cause on which I know I can have an impact,” Ayers said. “One of the things that drew me to Panthera is its focus on wild cats — and focus leads to impact. Panthera’s suite of talented scientists, my fellow Global Alliance members and I all share a deep-rooted dedication to unearthing the science that will help conserve wild cats, reversing species’ declines, elevating their unsung plight with our voices and making their preservation a global priority for all.”

Ayers and his wife, Helaine, established The Ayers Wild Cat Conservation Trust in 2018.

Jonathan Ayers served Idexx, a leader in veterinary diagnostics and information technology, starting in 2002.

When he departed in 2019, Ayers was the Westbrook, Maine, company’s chairman, president and CEO. He remains a board member and senior adviser.

“At Idexx, Jon foresaw that millennials are more committed to protecting the health of their pets than earlier generations — a thesis that engendered great financial results,” Panthera founder Thomas S. Kaplan said.

“In the 15 years since Panthera emerged on the scene as a start-up venture, we have had many champions and heroes join with us to take the organization to where it is today: a brand name for scientific excellence, cutting-edge research and innovative partnerships in cat conservation that spans 39 countries where wild cats still roam free,” Kaplan said. “Even so, in my experience few have stepped forward with the gusto, vision and personal passion of Jon Ayers. By focusing the spotlight not only on the big cats but also on the 33 out of 40 species of wild cats that are known as small cats, he has already proven to be a game changer in cat conservation.”

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