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The Carnivore Preservation Trust (www.cptigers.org) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and selectively breeding what they regard as "keystone species": seed dispensers, pollinators and pest-controlling predators of the tropical rainforests. The trust's 55-acre compound, located near Pittsboro, houses over 230 animals representing 13 species of threatened carnivores, including an impressive collection of large cats: snow leopards, clouded leopards, jaguars, kinkajous and more. The group has also been successful in breeding ocelots, servals, caracals and binturongs. As a private organization, the CPT relies on private donations and volunteers, offering patrons the chance to "adopt" and sponsor these animals or to visit, volunteer or intern at the compound. CPT, as a member of the World Conservation Union, offers researchers and students up-close-and-personal access to these threatened species. Getting the alternative music crowd involved, the Carnivore Preservation Trust Benefit this week features local power popsters The Weather, Gold Chainz (pictured above) and the punk/glam/wave antics of Durham's Jett Rink. Hear great music and help these lesser-known critters this Wednesday, Aug. 21 at 9 p.m. at Raleigh's Kings. For details call 831-0540.

DiamondDiamondDiamondFor the second consecutive year, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) is holding "birthday party" fundraising events across the country the group's in its eighth year of existence. This Thursday, the Triangle RAINN chapter's benefit, "Thursday Night Far From Sleep," promises an evening of live music (featuring singer-songwriter-pianist Lisa Ray and singer-songwriter Allison Dennis), spoken work (stumP with Shirlette Ammons), turntablist DJ Kalyx, and a special lineup of short films. As befitting a birthday bash, there'll be plenty of cake, party favors and a raffle for cool prizes. Located in D.C., RAINN is currently the only national hotline for sexual assault victims offering free, confidential counseling 24 hours a day at (800) 656-HOPE. The event is Thursday, Aug. 22 at Kings in Raleigh, with doors opening at 7:30 p.m. Advance tickets are available for $5 at Schoolkids Records on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh or online at http://birthday.rainn.org. --Angie Carlson

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