Saturday, December 3, 2011


December Issue of National Geographic Magazine
Spotlights 8 “Cats in Crisis”

          Planet Earth is home to 37 species of cats.  All are facing an uncertain future. Even though humans have coexisted with predators for thousands of years, the world’s cats are losing ground to habitat loss, illegal hunting and retaliatory killing when they prey on livestock.  Yet conservationists see hope.
            In the December issue of National Geographic Magazine, on newsstands November 29 and available now as a digital magazine, author and world-renowned field biologist George B. Schaller proposes bold action to ensure their survival. 
Schaller’s essay, Politics Is Killing the Big Cats is accompanied by a 5-panel pullout poster featuring stunning photos of 8 of the world’s big cats, seven of which are cats from the Houston Zoo, captured in stunning detail by National Geographic photographer Vincent J. Musi. 
“We are proud and honored that our Houston Zoo big cat ‘ambassadors’ were chosen to accompany George Schaller’s essay and grateful that National Geographic’s Big Cat Initiative is raising awareness about the conservation status of the world’s cat species,” said Houston Zoo Carnivore Curator Beth Schaefer. 
 Assisted by Houston Zoo carnivore keepers, Vincent J. Musi photographed the Zoo’s male African lion Jonathan and 6 other cats (clouded leopard, jaguar, cougar, leopard, cheetah, and Malayan tiger) during a week-long photo session in February.  Each cat was photographed in its off exhibit ‘bedroom’ against a black backdrop. Each photo in the pullout poster is accompanied by a brief profile that includes the cat’s estimated wild population and its conservation status. The National Geographic Society is working to save big cats through its Big Cats Initiative; find out more at  
“We are deeply appreciative of the Houston Zoo’s hospitality.  It is unusual for one facility to have such a diversity of big cats, and their generousity in facilitating Vince’s photo shoot helped us to illustrate the animals’ beauty and power for our 40 million readers worldwide,” said Kathy Moran, senior photo editor in charge of the National Geographic magazine’s natural history coverage,
The December issue of National Geographic magazine is available on newsstands November 29 and as a digital magazine at the National Geographic App Store,  Prints of Musi’s photographs are available at

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