Kiersten Cluster, MA, JD
Kiersten is an Early Childhood Special Education teacher for the Los Angeles Unified School District. She teaches students ages three to five with moderate to severe disabilities.
She holds a B.A. in English from U.C. Riverside, a J.D. from the U.C.L.A. School of Law, and a teaching credential and M.A. in Early Childhood Special Education from California State University, Northridge. Kiersten is passionate about Animal rights and self-determination, and is co-founder of Elephant Guardians of Los Angeles, an anti-captivity lobbying group currently focused on Billy, the Elephant taken from his natal family in Malaysia as an infant and held at the Los Angeles Zoo. Bringing Billy to his forever home at ABES, where he would live the remainder of his life in peace and dignity, would be the culmination of this work.
Director of Elephant Care
Michele brings over thirty years’ experience in animal care, shelters and welfare including humane law enforcement involving circus and rodeo inspections, thoroughbred horse racing and horse breeding farms, veterinary assistance, and wildlife rescue and rehabilitation.
For the past 7 years, Michele has held the position of senior-level Elephant caregiver at a major North American sanctuary where she cares for rescues from zoos and circuses. Her diverse roles as criminal investigator, rescuer, caregiver and advocate working with multiple species have catalyzed Michele’s research and teaching about animal emotions, trauma recovery, and healing.
Michele’s greatest honor is an animal at ease in her presence, and her life purpose is to heal traumatized animals and inspire empathy in the indifferent, resulting in action and respectful, meaningful co-existence with non-human animals and their societies. As a component of the Elephant Liberation Program, she will be also focusing her work in Unchain the Gods India and Being Sanctuary projects, to enhance, teach and assist in conscious implementation of these restorative approaches to animal trauma recovery and healing.
Jessica Bell Rizzolo, BS, MA
Jessica is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at Michigan State University with specializations in Animal Studies, Environmental Science and Policy, and Conservation Criminology.
She holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and a Master of Arts in Psychology from Northwestern University, where her graduate work focused on the intersection of attachment theory, interpersonal neurobiology, and traumatology. Jessica’s current research areas include trans-species psychology, discursive representations of wildlife, the sociopolitical dynamics of conservation initiatives, wildlife tourism, and the illegal wildlife trade, with a specific focus on the issues affecting Elephants in both captivity and the wild.
Her academic publications include “There Is No Wild: Conservation and Circus Discourse” (Society & Animals, 2015), “Ideology, Subjectivity and Mind in Animal Models and Infant Research” (in Animals in Human Society: Amazing Creatures who Share our Planet, 2015), “Conservation Criminology, Sociological Theory, and Wildlife Tourism” (in Conservation Criminology: The Nexus of Crime, Risk and Natural Resources, 2016) and encyclopedia articles on Elephants and the ivory trade (in Humans and Animals: A Geography of Coexistence, 2016). She has presented her work at numerous international conferences, including the Australian Animal Studies Group, the International Society of Anthrozoology, the Society for Conservation Biology’s Conservation Asia Conference, and the International Conference on Asian Elephants in Culture and Nature.
Jessica’s current work focuses on mahout cultures and psychological indicators of Elephant trauma and well-being in Thailand. Based on fieldwork conducted in Thailand, she, in collaboration with Dr. Bradshaw, is authoring a policy document on Elephant tourism in Thailand.
Lin Vogel is a writer and carpenter who holds degrees in Sociology and Mass Communication.
She has been a community organizer and grant writer for pilot projects and start-up services for disenfranchised populations, including shelter services for indigents and victims of domestic violence, art projects for elementary students, and capital improvement projects for service organizations. Lin has a lifelong commitment to improving conditions for animals, a singular passion for elephants, and is thrilled to be part of the ABES team.
Lokesh Coomar, BS
Lokesh attends the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine, focusing on neurology and cross-species psychiatry.
He is a graduate with a bachelors degree in microbiology from the Honors College, University of South Florida and an intern at The Kerulos Center. He presented a paper on the psychological role of human-elephant relationships and its influence on elephant well-being at the 2012 International Society of Anthrozoology Conference, Cambridge University, UK. A near lifetime passion for elephants and their well-being has brought him to conduct cross-cultural/cross-species studies with the understanding that human society can benefit from understanding elephant ethics and values. His interest focuses on the effects of elephant-human relationships as they pertain to captive elephant mental and emotional health.
Cari Zuckerman, BSN, MS
Elephant Sanctuary Coordinator
Cari Zuckerman holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from James Madison University in Virginia and worked as a nurse on a postpartum unit for four-and-a-half years.
After realizing that her true passion was nonhuman animal rights and welfare, she earned her Master of Science in Anthrozoology from Canisius College in New York. Under the guidance of Dr. Gay Bradshaw, she completed a three-month internship focusing on psychology, traumatology, and PTSD in captive Elephants. For the internship, she travelled to Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand and worked with Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation (WRRC) and TREE Foundation in India. The internship allowed her to gain firsthand experience with captive Asian Elephants and has propelled her to focus her efforts on creating a sanctuary for Elephants currently suffering in zoos and circuses in North America.
Lee Ann McIndoo
I have spent all my life surrounded by nature, trees, lakes, rocks and other-beings. Nature has always been extremely important to me.
I have long been aware of what was happening to others on this planet, in factory farms, circuses, zoos, trophy and canned hunting and others cultural practices. The sense of urgency that started those years ago, has stayed with me. Being a voice for those in need of one is, and has been, my goal. The dignity of non-humans is as important as our own.
Education, awareness and engagement in these issues is extremely important for people to feel that they too are moving forward and being part of the solution. I have participated in the International March for Elephants and Rhinos, had a Facebook page for many years called “Support Worldwide Ban on Ivory” and belong to and co-administrate many groups about many kinds of animal issues. I have also flown to Los Angeles for the 30th anniversary conference of PAWS, sponsored four elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust for several years, and donated to other sanctuaries. There is always more that can be done.
Having spent 37 years of my working life supporting humans with intellectual and physical challenges, it is wonderful to see that The Ten Principles of Being Sanctuary applies to everyone from all walks and flights and swims of life. Everyone, human and non-human, are susceptible to extreme trauma through life’s experiences.
Janet is a Movement Analyst, Registered Dance/Movement Psychotherapist, Registered Somatic Movement Therapist; and Founder/Director of Laban/Bartenieff and Somatic Studies International.
She comes from a professional dance and dance movement psychotherapy background, in the US and abroad, and has trained dancers and dance movement psychotherapists for three decades. After studying Equine Hanna Somatics and joining the Kerulos Board, Janet developed the workshop series “Being with Other Animals,” which foregrounds ‘attunement’ through kinesthetic sensing and body/movement rapport as a perceptual means of entering embodied relational kinship with other animals.
Laurent Levy holds an MS in Anthrozoology from Canisius College, as well as an MA from Gratz College in Philadelphia, in addition to Computer Science and Piano Performance undergraduate degrees.
He has worked in technology and project management for 30 years but recently completed an internship at the Animals and Society Institute and is now eager to devote his time and energy to animal rights issues. He is honored to be a founding member of ABES.
Rabbi Elihu Gevirtz
Rabbi Gevirtz is an ecologist who has worked since 1989 in the terrestrial ecosystems of Southern and Central California.
His work has included protection of rare, threatened and endangered species, botanical and wildlife surveys, habitat restoration planning and implementation, writing management plans for ecological reserves. He has developed land use plans and policies regarding land development, and preservation of habitat areas and agricultural lands. In the 1990s, he lead the efforts to buy and preserve two properties that are now publicly-owned ecological preserves. He was ordained as a Rabbi in 2012, and, while he continues to work as an ecologist, he also teaches, conducts ceremonies, and continues to learn and express gratitude every day.
Gay Bradshaw, PhD, PhD
Gay holds doctorate degrees in ecology and psychology, and has published, taught, and lectured widely in these fields both in the U.S. and internationally.
She is the author of Pulitzer Prize-nominated Elephants on the Edge: What Animals Teach Us about Humanity, published by Yale University Press, an in-depth psychological portrait of elephants in captivity and in the wild. Dr. Bradshaw’s work focuses on trans-species psychology, the theory and methods for the study and care of animal psychological well-being and multi-species cultures. Her research expertise includes the effects of violence on and trauma recovery of elephants, grizzly bears, chimpanzees, and parrots, and other species in captivity. [Curriculum vitae]
ABES Advisory Board
- Carol Buckley, Elephant Aid International
- Supraja Dharini, TREE Foundation, India
- Katherine Connor, Boon Lott Elephant Sanctuary
- Suparna Ganguly, WRRC and CUPA, India
- Marion Garaï, Chair, Elephant Specialist Advisory Group (ESAG), South Africa
- Michele Pickover, EMS Foundation, South Africa
- Darcia Narvaez, Notre Dame
- Ray Ryan, The Kerulos Center
- Jan Schmidt-Burbach, PhD, Dr. med vet, Senior Wildlife and Veterinary Advisor, World Animal Protection
- Allan N. Schore, PhD, UCLA
- Ed Tick, Soldier’s Heart
- Mary Watkins, PhD, Pacifica Graduate Institute