Most Popular Domestic Cat Helps Conservation Efforts for Big Cat Cousin, the Jaguar

The domestic Bengal Cat, bred to resemble a small leopard, ocelot or Jaguar, is helping raise awareness and resources for the endangered Jaguar through The International Bengal Cat Society's partnership with the Jaguar Species Survival Plan.

Washington, DC, December 29, 2011 --( The International Bengal Cat Society Inc. announces an initial donation to the Jaguar Species Survival Plan and yearlong campaign to raise awareness and donations to preserve the Jaguar, the only big cat of the Americas. “The Jaguar is an iconic cat and their high contrast coat of incomparable rosetted beauty make the Jaguar one of the inspirations and models for the Bengal Cat,” says Anthony Hutcherson, President of The International Bengal Cat Society. Bengal Cat owners and breeders will be contributing toward the conservation effort through a number of special events and programs throughout 2012.

The International Bengal Cat Society (TIBCS) is the largest and oldest breed club for Bengal Cats. The club has over five hundred members in 24 countries throughout the world. Bengal Cats are domestic cat breed intended to look like a small version of a leopard, ocelot or Jaguar. The breed was created in early 1980s by Jean S. Mill through the intentional hybridization of a five to twelve pound small wild cat called the Asian Leopard Cat, Prionailurus bengalensis, with a domestic cat. Through a breeding program selecting for a leopard like coat but only domestic temperament, Mrs. Mill and breeders worked in cooperation developing the Bengal Cat into a beloved pet in addition to a companion that would raise awareness about the plight of wild cats around the world and could eliminate the desire to own a true wild cat as a pet.

“It is the hope of Bengal Cat Breeders that by developing the beautiful totally domestic Bengal cat, that many people will no longer be tempted to own endangered wild cats such as ocelots and margays as pets and, thus, contribute to their conservation in the wild,” states Karen Sausman, TIBCS Past President and lifelong zoo and conservation professional. The modern Bengal Cat is a cherished and popular pet around the world. Bengals are the most registered and shown breed of all the pedigreed cats with The International Cat Association (TICA), the world’s largest genetic registry and association for domestic cats.

In 2011 TIBCS identified the Jaguar Species Survival Plan (SSP) as the first recipient of a Heritage Conservation Fund grant, a dedicated fund to conserve the wild cat species that inspire Bengal Cat owners. TIBCS produced a 2012 Bengal Cat calendar and identified the Jaguar SSP as the recipient one hundred percent of the profits.

When informed TIBCS identified the Jaguar SSP as the grant recipient and wild cat conservation partner for 2011/2012 Stacey Johnson, Jaguar Species Survival Plan Coordinator and President & CEO of The Living Desert in Palm Desert, California noted, “It is a pleasure and an honor to be recognized by The International Bengal Cat Society; and we are grateful to have the Society as a supporting partner in jaguar conservation.”

The Jaguar Species Survival Plan© is a program of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. It consists of thirty-nine zoos that are dedicated to long-term management and conservation of the jaguar. SSP participants work toward maintaining a genetically healthy population of jaguars in zoological institutions so visitors can become aware of the largest cat in the Americas. SSP participants focus on educating their visitors about ecosystem conservation, presenting the jaguar as the apex, or top, predator in a complex web of interaction among plant and animal species – including humans. If jaguars thrive in the wild, chances are very good that most of the other species in the system are thriving.

Mr. Hutcherson states, “Bengal Cat owners are passionate cat lovers and we have been searching for the means to make a positive difference in the conservation of the world’s wild cat species. We are excited to support the work of the Jaguar SSP to increase the understanding of Jaguars and actively engage in the preservation of Jaguars and the Pumas, ocelots and other animals that share its habitat.”

Stacey Johnson adds, “I am glad we are able to translate the passion for Bengal Cats into field work protecting the wild cats that the Society’s members care deeply about, as well.”

The International Bengal Cat Society
Anthony Hutcherson