Posted by: Katie | October 3, 2012

Mireya Mayor

Mireya Mayor, one of my biggest inspirations, can be described in many ways: conservationist, primatologist, National Geographic Explorer, and former NFL Cheerleader for the Miami Dolphins. In her book, Pink Boots and a Machete, she describes her constant love of animals as well as her transformation from being a cheerleader to earning a Ph.D in anthropology.

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Amazon – Pink Boots and a Machete

If you have not heard of Mireya Mayor before, you are missing out – she has been through many wild adventures, which are all included within the book

Taken from her website:
It was in 1996, while attending the University of Miami that she realized that her passion for animals could become a career. In order to fulfill a science credit, Mireya wanted to register for a woman’s biology course, but the class was full. After scrolling down the course list she chose an anthropology course, not entirely knowing what that meant. That choice would forever change her life. After learning of wild animals on the brink of extinction whose most basic behavior and habits were unknown, Mireya, then only 22, applied for her first grant. Though a Miami Dolphins Cheerleader and model, she received the grant and went on to spend that summer in the remote jungles of Guyana, one of the most unexplored regions of the world at that time. The following year she journeyed to the wilds of Madagascar into areas so remote, that she often found herself surrounded by local villagers who had never seen a foreigner before her arrival. Against all odds, and following in the footsteps of renowned scientists who had tried and failed, Mireya completed the first ever long-term and genetic studies of two of the most critically endangered primates in the world, Perrier’s sifaka and the Silky sifaka. Feeling as if she had found her calling, Mireya has spent anywhere from 3 to 10 months at a time in Madagascar since then.

In 1999, National Geographic was doing a story in Madagascar and asked Mireya to say a few words about the lemurs. Impressed by her passion for the subject, down to earth delivery of scientific knowledge and distinct background of NFL cheerleader-turned- scientist, National Geographic offered Mireya the opportunity of a lifetime and her dream job: a staff wildlife correspondent position, complete with her own office.”

She has done and seen things that many of us animal lovers could only dream of experiencing. I was fortunate enough to meet her (she was kind enough to recognize me after a tweet I sent her earlier in the evening) when she was in Tampa and it was a true joy to hear her tell her stories in person; I could not think of a better person to pick as an inspiration. She has struggled with judgements of her being ‘just a pretty face’ and she proved that there is much more to her than that. Mireya comes off as extremely knowledgeable on many different animal subjects – especially the lemurs of Madagascar. In addition, you will get a feel for her strong spirit and adventuring skills once you begin reading “Pink Boots and a Machete”. If you ever get the chance to see her in person, do not miss out on the opportunity.

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