Cheetahs print shoes are popular in the West, but the species has been hunted and killed for their unique design.
This week, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) teamed up to raise money to help breed and release Cheetas that can be used for the fashion industry.
“The cheetahs are a species that we’re seeing a lot of the media are really focused on.
They’re a great example of a breed that’s getting recognized for its uniqueness, but there are many other species out there that we haven’t seen the light of day yet,” said Dr. John Schaffner, head of the International Cheetare Conservation Programme at the Smithsonian.”
I think it’s just a natural extension of a lot that we’ve seen in the media about these animals,” he said.
The Cheetaka’s unique design has garnered the attention of some designers, but also the attention that comes with the death of an endangered species.
In the past year, a number of companies have released cheetas into the wild, including Dior, Louis Vuitton, and Dior Pets.
Schaffner hopes that with the Cheetackas’ success in raising funds, people will start to realize the species’ worth as well.
“If we can make a difference in people’s minds and their wallets, then that’s going to go a long way in getting more people to care about the cheetack and hopefully to try them out,” he explained.
The Smithsonian’s new breeding program will allow the cheets to travel in the wild in order to get their design on the runway, while also helping them gain valuable conservation skills.
The International Cheeto Conservation Programme, part of the National Geographic Society, supports cheetare conservation efforts in Kenya, South Africa, and elsewhere.
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