Kiersten Cluster, MA, JD
Kiersten Cluster is co-founder of Elephant Guardians of Los Angeles, (EGLA), an anti-captivity group focused on Billy, the Elephant taken from his natal family in Malaysia as an infant and held for three decades in solitude at the Los Angeles Zoo.
After witnessing Billy’s deplorable conditions and near ceaseless head bobbing and swaying in profound distress, EGLA galvanized a renewed campaign for Billy’s release to sanctuary. Her passionate commitment to Animal rights and self-determination led her to Kerulos and the creation of ABES so that Billy and other Elephants may find peace and dignity. Kiersten 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, where she is an Early Childhood Special Education teacher for students ages three to five with moderate to severe disabilities.
Michele Franko is a senior-level Elephant carer at a North American sanctuary where she has served for almost ten years.
This experience builds on over thirty years work in Animal care and advocacy. Michele has worked with multiple species such as horses in thoroughbred horse racing and sport horse breeding farms, and in diverse venues and roles including as a humane law enforcement officer, inspector, and criminal investigator of circuses and rodeos, veterinary assistance, and wildlife rescue and rehabilitation. She has traveled abroad applying her knowledge of Elephant trauma recovery and care to Asian Elephants, who have catalyzed Michele’s research and teaching about Elephant emotions, trauma recovery, and healing.
Jessica Bell Rizzolo, BS, MA
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 is a graduate with a bachelors degree in microbiology from the Honors College, University of South Florida and a former 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. Additionally, he is an award-winning wildlife artist, specializing in a vast array of media. Currently, Lokesh is pursuing his MD degree, focusing on neurology and cross-species psychiatry.
Tina Bloom, PhD
Tina Bloom is a clinical psychologist who was born in rural northwestern Pennsylvania near the Allegheny National Forest where she grew up close to nature and developed a love for animals, especially dogs.
Throughout her changing careers from exercise physiologist, to dog trainer, to clinical psychologist, the one constant in her life was her relationship with her canine companions. Her close emotional bond with her dogs allowed her to discover that the emotional contagion that occurs between humans, also occurs between humans and dogs, and also, very likely across many if not all species lines. Currently, she works in a high security prison and applies her knowledge as well as her experience with trans-species psychology to her work with prisoners.
Gay Bradshaw, PhD, PhD
G.A. Bradshaw began her work with Elephants in 1996 with the teenage male Elephants who killed over 100 White and Black Rhinoceroses.
This encounter led to her formal diagnosis of Post-trauma stress disorder (PTSD) described in her 2005 dissertation and then featured as a cover story of The New York Times Magazine and her Pulitzer Prize-nominated Elephants on the Edge: What Animals Teach Us about Humanity (Yale University Press, 2009), an in-depth psychological portrait of elephants in captivity and in the wild. Gay’s research on Elephants, Chimpanzees, Parrots, Orcas, and other wildlife trauma and recovery forms the foundation for ABES.
Janet Kaylo focuses on the body and movement as the medium of language, healing, and relationship.
Her work with humans and other Animals integrates mental, emotional and somatic expressions in the understanding that body and mind are one. Movement Analysis differs from behavior analysis and ethograms by its nuanced observations and analysis of kinesthetic processes. Janet will offer courses and work with carers at ABES as part of Elephant trauma recovery. Hailing from professional dance and dance movement psychotherapy, she holds an MA in Jungian Studies, is a Certified Movement Analyst, Registered Dance/Movement Psychotherapist, Registered Somatic Movement Therapist; and Movement Pattern Analyst. As Founder/Director of Laban/Bartenieff and Somatic Studies International, Janet has been training teachers and practitioners in the U.S. and abroad for over three decades.
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.
Erin Johnson, BSc
Erin holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behavior from Southwestern University, Georgia. She has worked with a spectrum of species, and as a wildlife rehabilitator, has cared for Tadpoles, Goldfish, Hermit Crabs, Tortoises, Rats, and Chimpanzees.
After graduating, she worked at the Atlanta Zoo as a zookeeper caring for a wide range of mammals including Elephants. Because her ethics did not align with captive institutions, she changed jobs and at the same time enrolled as a Kerulos Internship to pursue her passion for healing. She is now pursuing a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and the necessary credentials to treat PTSD in animals, including Elephants, using EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) so that she “can do my part to change the world for animals.” aurent 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.
Stephen Koyle holds a B.S.in Zoology from Michigan State University.
He has spent more than 28 years caring for animal and the last 16 years specializing in Elephant care. After witnessing firsthand the brutality that captive-held Elephants endure on a daily basis, Steve established Elephant Care Unchained, a 501c3 organization dedicated to eliminating cruelty and improving Elephant wellness and rights in countries of origin.
My initial exposure to working with wild/exotic Animals was in 1976 when I was hired by Pat Derby to be the caretaker of her assortment of Animals on a ranch in central California which included Grizzly and Black Bears, Wolves, Chinese Leopards,a Mountain Lion, an extremely large Tiger and an Asian Elephant–who for a long time was only handled by Pat–this was in the pre-PAWS days when money and resources were extremely tight.
Following that I returned to school at San Diego State and was fortunate to become the caretaker to two Barbary Apes who were being used by one of the Psychology professors in a non-invasive experiment where they weren’t physically harmed, but suffered greatly from the confines of small cages and lack of activity. In other words, they were a small reflection of what they would have been in the wild. After completing my degree in Psychology I, by chance, was offered a position as an African Elephant keeper at the San Diego Wild Animal Park in Escondido, California which began my working and caring for seven female African and one bull African Elephants and eventually winding up also working with 8 female Asian and 1 bull Asian Elephants who had their own yard and barn and who were the ones who did the shows and rides for the public. The Africans pretty much had limited contact with the outside public. It was a deep learning experience on the care and the physical abuse that Elephants endure in captivity–especially in an entertainment venue, but my time with the Africans was one of the best experiences of my life–getting to bond with them and learning about and from them. Eventually it was time to move on and in 2003 the last three Africans were shipped out to the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago where I am now living. I am dedicated to Elephant freedom from exploitation and am involved in the release of the Swaziland Elephants who were stolen form their homes and family
ABES Advisory Council
- Erika Abrams, Animal Aid Unlimited
- Carol Buckley, Elephant Aid International
- Katherine Connor, Boon Lott Elephant Sanctuary
- Supraja Dharini, TREE Foundation, India
- Suparna Ganguly, WRRC and CUPA, India
- Marion Garaï, Chair, Elephant Specialist Advisory Group (ESAG), South Africa
- Darcia Narvaez, Notre Dame
- Michele Pickover, EMS Foundation, South Africa
- Ray Ryan, The Kerulos Center
- Carl Safina, The Safina Center
- Jan Schmidt-Burbach, PhD, Dr. med vet, Senior Wildlife and Veterinary Advisor, World Animal Protection
- Allan N. Schore, PhD, UCLA
- Kim Sturla, Animal Place
- Ed Tick, Soldier’s Heart
- Mary Watkins, PhD, Pacifica Graduate Institute