David Wildt's Domestic Cat and Cheetah Experiments (1978-1983)
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David Wildt's cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) research from 1978-1983 became the foundation for the use of embryological techniques in endangered species breeding programs. The cheetah is a member of the cat family (Felidae), which includes thirty-seven species. According to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) all Felidae species are currently threatened or endangered, with the exception of the domestic cat (Felinus catus). Cheetahs are an internationally recognized charismatic megafauna species, prized zoo specimens, difficult to breed, and the basis of many conservation campaigns. Like most species, cheetahs have not traditionally been studied; only a few "model" organisms have been thoroughly researched in a laboratory setting. This research revealed that the difficulty observed in breeding cheetahs in captivity is due to their lack of genetic diversity.