Jackson Hole WILD is presenting a night of paws and claws.

“Night of The Wild Cat,” Friday at the Center Theater, is an evening of film centered around the big cats of the world. There will be a series of short films and a panel discussion, and the premiere of “Age of Big Cats: Puma.”

According to Lisa Samford, JH WILD’s executive director, the purpose of the night is to highlight these rare creatures and the challenges they face.

“We live a rarefied life here in pristine Jackson, and it’s easy to become isolated from the social and environmental crises that dominate the majority of the planet,” Samford said. “The role of media has shifted dramatically over the last 15 years. We are literally two clicks away from pretty much anywhere on the planet. The power of media to connect people to the world and to empower personal action has never been greater.”

This night of film is just one piece of a larger picture for JH WILD. The organization has also partnered with CITES (The United Nation’s Convention on Illegal Trade of Endangered Species) and the U.S. State Department to “amplify the impact of conservation media with public policy and governmental engagement,” Samford said.

According to Samford, JH WILD sees the organization as a vehicle for highlighting nature and conservation stories. This night of films will be replicated with public screenings around the world.

“The majority of these screening events are free in partnership with community organizations and schools,” she said. “In many cases there would never be another opportunity to see these films for them.”

“Age of Big Cats: Puma” will premiere Friday night. It’s a classic survival tale, said Cindy Harger, community partnerships and events director for the nonprofit.

“It’s a survival tale that showcases the life of pumas, from their evolution from ancient times to where they stand in today’s competitive world,” Harger said. “The director, Martin Dohrn, is a previous Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival Best of Festival winner for his work on ‘David Attenborough’s Light on Earth.’ ”

The other films range in topics and locations.

“From the story of a Maasai boy learning to protect lions in Kenya,” Harger said, “to heroes protecting tigers in Russia, to indigenous cultures living with snow leopards in the Indian Himalayas, these stories have heart, show the challenges of living with big cats, and they also provide hope.”

The post-screening panel will include mountain lion experts from The Cougar Fund, Wyoming Game and Fish and the Forest Service.

“Since one of the purposes of the International Big Cats Film Festival is to call attention to the plights and successes of big cats around the world,” Harger said, “we felt the evening wouldn’t be complete without a brief discussion of the status of the mountain lion in Jackson Hole.”

Contact Isa Jones at 732-7062, entertainment@jhnewsandguide.com or @JHNGscene.

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