Jonathan Ayers, former chairman, president and CEO of Westbrook-based IDEXX Laboratories Inc. (Nasdaq: IDXX), has pledged $ 20 million for international efforts to protect wild cats.
According to a press release on Monday, the Ayers Foundation, the Ayers Wild Cat Conservation Trust, will invest at least this amount through the Panthera Global Alliance for wild cats over the next 10 years.
The pledge will support a wide range of conservation efforts, with a particular focus on the conservation of small wild cats that are scattered around the world from Brazil to Borneo to Botswana, including the cloudy leopard, ocelot and black-footed cat, among 30 other small ones and little-known wildcat species.
Ayers is a self-described “cat person” whose cats are considered a family. Since retiring from IDEXX in 2019, Ayers has supported Panthera, a global wildcat conservation organization.
He resigned from his 17-year management of the veterinary diagnostics company because of a spinal cord injury sustained in a bicycle accident in June.
Ayers said in the press release: “As I embark on this exciting phase of my life and career, I can think of no more meaningful endeavor than to dedicate his unreserved passion to protecting these extraordinary animals – the world’s charismatic wildcats – and their very existence is so important to the health of our planet. This association with a scientific leader like Panthera, who comes from a science school that benefits the better-known cats of our planet, is a natural extension of my lifelong interest in nature and cats – both large and small, domestic and wild. “
During his career at IDEXX from 2002 to 2019, Ayers led the company, investing more than 80% of the industry’s research and development in diagnostic and information technology and providing novel offerings that significantly improved the standard of veterinary care. Under his leadership, the company grew annual sales from $ 380 million to $ 2.4 billion while its share price rose more than 40-fold.