The board and staff of Panthera mourn the passing of our co-founder, Alan Rabinowitz, PhD, a lifelong advocate for wild animals, especially big cats. Alan's crusade for the voiceless began at the Bronx Zoo, where as a lonely boy with a debilitating stutter, he whispered to a caged jaguar a bold promise - one that defined his career and his approach to life. Battling bullies and detractors throughout his youth, Alan ultimately conquered his stutter and used his voice to fulfill his promise to the captive jaguar, elevating the plight of vulnerable species to international prominence. During his career, often amidst controversy, Alan convinced world leaders to make wildlife protection a priority. His fearless advocacy produced eight protected areas in Latin America and Southeast Asia, and official conservation commitments from dozens of countries, most recently from Costa Rica and Honduras. Fittingly, Alan returned to the Bronx Zoo as the Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Global Carnivore Program and Science and Exploration Program before founding Panthera in 2006 with his close friend Dr. Thomas S. Kaplan. As the world's only organization devoted to conservation of the world's wild cats, Panthera was a fitting coda to Alan's field work. He served as CEO from 2008 to 2017, when he stepped into the role of Chief Scientist. Alan was a prolific writer and passionate storyteller, producing over 100 scientific papers and eight books aimed at popular audiences, and appearing in numerous films and documentaries. He was a Director of The Stuttering Foundation, whose cause he championed proudly alongside his conservation work. An explorer and advocate to the end, Alan embarked in 2017 on the Journey of the Jaguar, a trek across the jaguar's range from northern Mexico to northern Argentina. He aimed to expedite international cooperation to preserve the Jaguar Corridor, his signature conservation initiative. Alan's ambitious vision to conserve jaguars while they are still relatively abundant is now the focus of a developing diplomatic agreement among 14 countries throughout the jaguar's range. Alan's loss will be felt most keenly by his beloved wife, Salisa, and their children, Alexander and Alana. We share their sadness, along with the hundreds of wildlife conservation scientists Alan mentored and inspired and the millions of people who found comfort and encouragement from his stories of overcoming adversity. From Belize's Cockscomb Basin to Thailand's Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, Alan made the planet wilder. He will be missed the world over, but his spirit lives in each jaguar's pounce and each tiger's roar.
Published in New York Times on Aug. 7, 2018.