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March 22, 2021

Former IDEXX Chair Jonathan Ayers donates $20M to wild cat conservation

Jonathan Ayers, former chairman, president and CEO of Westbrook-based IDEXX Laboratories Inc. (Nasdaq: IDXX), has pledged $20 million to an international effort to protect wild cats. 

File photo
Jonathan Ayers

Ayers’ foundation, the Ayers Wild Cat Conservation Trust, will invest at least that amount over the next 10 years through the Panthera Global Alliance for Wild Cats, according to a news release Monday.

The pledge will support a wide range of conservation measures, with a particular focus on the preservation of small wild cats scattered around the globe from Brazil to Borneo to Botswana, including the clouded leopard, ocelot and black-footed cat, among 30 other small and little known wild cat species.

A self-described “cat person” whose felines are considered family, the release said, Ayers has worked to assist Panthera, a global wild cat conservation organization, since retiring from IDEXX in 2019.

He stepped down from his 17-year leadership of the veterinary diagnostics company because of a spinal cord injury he suffered that June in a bicycling accident.

Ayers said in the release, “As I embark on this exciting phase of my life and career, I cannot imagine a more meaningful venture than dedicating one’s full-hearted passion to protecting these extraordinary animals — the charismatic wild cats of the world — whose existence is so essential to the health of our planet. Coming from a school of science benefiting the more familiar felines of our earth, this union with a scientific leader like Panthera is a natural extension of my lifelong interest in nature and cats — both big and small, domestic and wild.”

During his career at IDEXX from 2002 through 2019, Ayers led the company in investing more than 80% of the industry’s research and development in diagnostic and information technology, providing novel offerings that appreciably advanced the standard of care for veterinary medicine. Under his leadership, the company grew annual revenues from $380 million to $2.4 billion, while its share price enjoyed a more than 40-fold increase.

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