Laurie Marker is bringing a cheetah to G2 Gallery, where she’ll talk about saving the creatures from extinction in the wild
By Brian Adigwu
Cheetah conservationist and expert Laurie Marker has dedicated her life to saving the world’s fastest land animal from extinction in the wilds of Africa.
On Tuesday, Marker heads to the hipster’s natural habitat to talk about her work and her new book, “A Future for Cheetahs,” as the kickoff event for a fall environmental speaker series at the G2 Gallery. The book includes photographs of cheetahs in Africa taken by noted wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas.
FYI: She’s also bringing an actual cheetah from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park to the talk, so don’t dress as an antelope.
Marker, who earned her PhD in zoology from Oxford, began studying cheetahs 35 years ago and has spent the past 20 years overseeing cheetah protection efforts in Namibia, where her nonprofit Cheetah Conservation Fund is based.
“There are only 10,000 cheetahs left in the world, and Namibia has about a third of that population,” Marker said.
Marker said human-wildlife conflict is the greatest threat to the cheetah. She said people often kill cheetahs because they are seen as ferocious, threatening creatures.
That’s where an orphaned cheetah cub named Chewbacca came in.
“Chewbacca was a special orphan I raised for 16 years,” Marker said. “He was a great ambassador. He thought I was his mom.”
Marker had locals visit with Chewbacca and it was through him that many learned cheetahs weren’t quite the threat that they thought.
Drawn to cheetahs’ amber-colored eyes and their running speed (up to 70 mph), think of Marker as a Jane Goodall for big, wild cats.
Marker stresses that there’s a lot that people can do to help save the cheetah. Her Cheetah Conservation Fund creates opportunities to volunteer, donate and spread awareness about cheetahs and other threatened wildlife species.
“No matter if you live in L.A. or if you live in Africa as I do, it’s our responsibility to preserve wildlife for future generations,” she said.
Marker speaks at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the G2 Gallery, 1503 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice. Admission is $25 or $10 for students, and proceeds go toward cheetah conservation. Call (310) 452-2842 or visit cheetah.org.