Mike Fouraker is the Executive Director of the nationally ranked Fort Worth Zoo and has been with the institution since 1993. Mike brings more than 27 years of elephant management skills with elephants at both the Fort Worth and Knoxville Zoos. The Fort Worth Zoo’s Asian elephant breeding program includes two adult bull elephants and five females. Mike has served on the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ (AZA) Board of Directors and is an active Board Member on several other conservation foundations including the International Rhino Foundation and the International Iguana Foundation. Additionally, he served as the coordinator for the AZA White Rhino Species Survival Plan (SSP) and is a member of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Conservation Breeding Specialist Group and World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).
Charlie Gray brings more than 25 years of elephant experience as the Elephant Manager at African Lion Safari in Ontario, Canada. Charlie Gray manages the one of the largest breeding herd of Asian elephants in North America. African Lion Safari has had more than 17 Asian elephants born at the park since 1991 and has had more second generation births than any other facility in North America. He is also well respected for his ability to manage multiple adult bulls in a breeding situation. Under Charlie’s direction, African Lion Safari has been involved in many research projects including monitoring testosterone levels in males, semen collection, artificial insemination, and female Asian elephant hormone and urine assays. Charlie is a founding member and past Board member of the Elephant Managers Association and was a long- term member of the American Zoo and Aquarium (AZA) Elephant Taxon Advisory Group (AZA TAG/SSP) Management Group.
Tom Schmid is the President & CEO of the Columbus Zoo Family of Parks, which, in addition to the Zoo, includes Zoombezi Bay Water Park, the Safari Golf Club, and The Wilds, a 10,000-acre wildlife conservation center located in Muskingum County in Ohio. With a team of 350 full time and over 2000 part time staff, Tom and his teams inspire people by connecting them with wildlife. Born in Miami, FL in 1962, Tom grew up in South Florida, and received his Bachelors degree in biology from Stetson University, and his Master of Science degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Central Florida. Tom has served as the President and CEO of the Texas State Aquarium, a wildlife conservation and marine education institution and served as the Director of Operations for NAUTICUS- the National Maritime Center, located in Norfolk, Virginia.
Kristi Burtis is the Director of Wildlife Care for the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. She started her career at SeaWorld San Diego and spent over 31 years in Animal Care and training. She was a member of the Rescue and Rehabilitation Team, working with sea lions, seals, several species of dolphins, grey whales and sea otters. Kristi’s Animal Training experience consisted of over 20 years training dolphins, manatees, pilot whales, walruses, a variety of species of birds, and killer whales. She was selected to serve on the local and corporate Animal Welfare Committees and assisted on the design team for SeaWorld Abu Dhabi. Kristi earned a Veterinarian Technician Certificate and Associate of Animal Science degree (1993), Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Biology (1999), Master of Arts degree in Human Behavior (2003), and Doctorate of Management in Organizational Leadership (2018). She also taught for the San Diego Community College District in Psychology/Learning and Behavior for over 12 years.
Brian Aucone is the Senior Vice President for Animal Sciences at Denver Zoo. Brian oversees all aspects of animal care, health, nutrition, behavior, and wellness of the over 2500 animals that call Denver Zoo home. Brian has participated in a variety of field conservation programs for elephants, greater one-horned rhinos, argali sheep, bats, and reptiles around the globe. In his time at the Denver Zoo and Oklahoma City Zoo prior, Brian has been involved with significant advances for elephants in human care through innovative exhibits and husbandry programs. Brian also serves as the Snake Taxon Advisory Group chair for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), a Lizard Taxonomic Advisory Group (TAG) steering committee member, a member of the Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund, and a member of both Colorado and Southwest Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (COPARC & SWPARC).
Lou Barreda is the Executive Director and founder of Myakka Elephant Ranch (MER), a nonprofit elephant conservation and education center founded in 2019. Lou has a Bachelor’s degree in business marketing and with his aptitude for engineering and design, he has built MER’s elephant habitats reflecting the elephants’ natural environments. Lou’s extensive history with elephants dates back to his childhood, and 20 years of hands-on experience with elephants makes him exceptionally qualified to specifically design programs and experiences to help educate the public on elephant conservation with emphasis on daily husbandry care routines. MER incorporates hands-on participation of visitors and offers the distinctive opportunity to educate the public about the various species of elephants via side-by-side comparisons between Africans and Asians. Myakka Elephant Ranch has one of the largest elephant habitats in the United States and prides itself in donating proceeds toward select elephant conservation projects worldwide.
Rob Bernardy is the Curator of Elephants at the Houston Zoo where he has spent the majority of his career and has over 20 years of experience working with Asian elephants. In that time, he has seen the Houston Zoo’s program grow from just 3 elephants to the 13 elephants that currently reside there. In his current role, he oversees all aspects of the elephant collection and elephant management team. He has experience managing a multigenerational herd, elephants at all life stages, a bachelor herd which includes a breeding male and has been involved in the birth of more than 10 Asian elephants.
Frank Carlos Camacho is the director of Africam Safari Park, Puebla, México and President of the Mexican Zoo and Aquaria Association (AZCARM), Chairman of the Board of the Committee for the Recovery of Endangered Species (ECRES, AZCARM), President of the International Eagle Conservation Alliance (ECA), Member of the Board of the Latin-American Zoo and Aquaria Association and Vice-president of Watusi Watoto Safari Camp. Frank is also a Master Scuba Diver (PADI), certified Open Water Rescue Diver (PADI), certified in High Angle Rescue, certified in Swift Water Rescue and certified in Cliff Rescue.
Daryl started his zoo career in 1989 at the Buffalo Zoo. In 1993, he began working with elephants in 2006, Daryl became the Curator of Large Mammals at the Houston Zoo where his primary duties included the oversight of the zoo’s Asian elephant breeding and research program Daryl is one of the leaders in the Zoo’s partnership with Baylor College of Medicine and research of the Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpes Virus (EEHV). Being a part of finding a cure for EEHV is one Daryl’s passions. In 2022, Daryl became the Vice President of Living Collections at the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium and International Conservation Center (ICC) where they manage two separate groups of elephants, five at the zoo and five at the ICC. Daryl is currently the Executive Director of the Elephant Managers Association (EMA) and has served the EMA Board of Directors since 2000. Under Daryl’s leadership, this organization continues to grow with increased membership and the establishment of a webpage. He has been an instructor at the AZA Principles of Elephant Management School since 2002 and a member of the AZA Elephant TAG/SSP Management Group since 2007.
Gary Johnson and his wife Kari are internationally recognized experts in elephant care and training, and are widely recognized for their contributions to elephant management and husbandry. With over 45 years of elephant experience, Mr. Johnson is well respected for his involvement in animal welfare issues and has served on the boards and animal welfare committees of multiple organizations. Gary and Kari are committed to helping find ways to diagnose and treat health and husbandry issues that affect elephants and to that end have raised tens of thousands of dollars to fund research. Most recently, the Johnsons founded The Preserve in Fredericksburg, Texas to educate the public about elephants. At The Preserve the Johnson’s Elephant Ambassadors continue to inspire visitors to care about elephant conservation through demonstrating the human-elephant bond. Because of this work and more, the Johnsons have been honored by their peers with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Elephant Managers Association.
Liz is the Vice President of Programs at Utah’s Hogle Zoo. She oversees all aspects of animal care and health for the resident animals and the Zoo’s conservation and education programs. Liz started her career at the Zoo over 30 years ago, as a zookeeper working with a variety of animals. During her career, she has been an integral part of the Zoo’s transformation. Liz’s vision to use the power of zoos to effect change began with creating the Zoo’s first conservation strategy – building a suite of international and local conservation partnerships and programs and embedding those programs in core aspects of the Zoo’s operations. She strongly believes conservation is a marathon not a sprint and appreciates the International Elephant Foundation’s long-term commitment to field projects and critical research. Liz received her Bachelor degree in Biology and Masters of Public Administration degree from the University of Utah.
Dr. Arne Lawrenz is the Director of Wuppertal Zoo, one of the oldest and most prestigious zoos in Germany that cares for approximately 5000 animals representing nearly 500 species. He holds a doctoral degree in veterinary medicine from the “Freie Universität Berlin” and cared for animals both large and small before joining Wuppertal Zoo as the elephant curator and veterinarian in 1998. Dr. Lawrenz is active in research and endangered species conservation, focusing on non-infectious diseases in the endangered Black-footed cat, and tuberculosis in elephants. He is Chairman of the Veterinary Committee of the European Association of Zoos & Aquaria (EAZA), President for Zoo Animal, Wildlife and Exotic Animal Medicine of Deutsche Veterinärmedizinische Gesellschaft (DVG), Past President of the European Association of Zoo and Wildlife Veterinarians (EAZWV), and Veterinary Advisor for the Black-footed Cat European Endangered Species Program (EEP), Asian Golden Cat EEP, and Pudu EEP.
Amos Morris has over 35 years of experience working in zoological facilities, with 30 of them working directly with elephants, elephant management, and elephant policy. Currently the Zoo Director of the Milwaukee County Zoo, Amos was previously Chief Operation Officer/Deputy Director at Fresno Chaffee Zoo, and Curator of Mammals at Pittsburgh Zoo where he managed their successful African elephant breeding program. While at the Pittsburgh Zoo he coordinated the construction and managed the development of the International Conservation Center (ICC), a 724-acre farm dedicated to the conservation of endangered and threatened species. Amos is also active in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Accreditation Commission where he has been an accreditation inspector focused on elephant standards for 10 years, and functions as the elephant liaison to the Elephant TAG/ SSP and served on their steering committee from 2007 to 2017.
Tim currently serves as the CEO and Executive Director for the San Antonio Zoo and its Zoo School, which opened in the fall 2017 as the largest nature-based preschool in the country. Tim’s vision to take the San Antonio Zoo to new heights began with investing $5 million into upgrading and renovating more than 100 animal habitats in his first two years. The most dramatic first improvements were the opening of a new home for giraffes, the addition of rain gardens in the giraffe and elephant habitats and expanding the African lion habitat. Tim serves on the boards of several other organizations, including the San Antonio Tourism Council, UTSA Alumni Association, and Young Presidents Organization’s San Antonio chapter.
Tim Thier is the Curator of Mammals/Ungulates and River’s Edge at the Saint Louis Zoo and has been working with ungulates and pachyderms for over 25 years. In this role Tim oversees all aspects of the Saint Louis Zoo’s three generation elephant herd and also leads the WildCare Institute Center for Asian Elephant Conservation, which is the conservation arm of the zoo and focuses on all aspects of conserving elephants in the wild, particularly in dealing with human/elephant conflict. Tim strongly believes in a future for elephants in zoos and in the wild. He has served in many different AZA roles over the years and is currently a member of Antelope, Cattle, Giraffid and Camelid TAG, Rhino TAG, Deer TAG and Caprinae TAG Steering Committees.
Deborah Olson is the Executive Director of the International Elephant Foundation. As the Curator of the Plains Biome at the Indianapolis Zoo, Deborah oversaw the care and management of the Zoo’s African elephant herd and led the Zoo’s reproductive research program. The research included developing innovative protocols to monitor progesterone and luteininzing hormones of the female elephants, correlating these hormones to reproductive tract changes through transrectal ultrasonography, leading ultimately to the first and second successful artificial insemination of two female African elephants in 1998. Olson has served on the AZA Elephant TAG/ SSP Management Group, is the past Editor of the Journal of the Elephant Managers Association, served as the North American Region African Elephant Studbook keeper, and edited the Elephant Husbandry Resource Guide.
Sarah Conley has worked with and for elephants for over 20 years, currently as the Conservation Coordinator for the International Elephant Foundation. Conley began working with Asian elephants as a teenager in California balancing conservation work and advocacy while attending the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) graduating Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Economics and minors in English Literature and Music History. She also earned UCLA’s prestigious Distinguished Bruin Award.
Conley is a nationally published writer and regular contributor to animal welfare and animal industry publications. She has traveled internationally representing IEF at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), presenting at multiple conferences, and overseeing projects.
When people ask Julie Bates what she does for a living, she can only smile. As the Donor Relations Manager for the International Elephant Foundation, she is truly creating a better world for elephants each and every day.
Julie holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from Western Illinois University. She has served in many roles during her career, including teaching at the elementary level, leading nonprofit programs, and managing award-winning large-scale volunteer programs. However, it’s her role in fundraising for wildlife conservation that she really celebrates.
Her goal is to make conservation relevant for all ages, capabilities, and cultures. She believes every person, every role, and every contribution is valued and important to effectively secure elephants and the wildlife that live with them.
Mr. Albert is an attorney and government affairs professional who has been active on elephant conservation matters for nearly 20 years. He has worked with numerous organizations and facilities throughout North America in support of elephant welfare and conservation. For many years he was involved with the largest herd of Asian elephants outside of Asia and was instrumental in transiting those animals to new homes. He served on the IEF Board of Directors for 18 years and is a former President of IEF as well.
Dr. Barbara Baker is President & CEO of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, a facility housing over 6,000 animals and ranked in the top five zoos for families nationwide, with over 1 million visitors each year. During her 28 year career, she was a veterinarian at numerous facilities housing African and Asian elephants, including the Bronx Zoo, the Lincoln Park Zoo, and the Riverbanks Zoo. Dr. Baker has supported the vision, programs, and resources for the Pittsburgh Zoo’s elephant herd to grow from 2 to 10 animals, one of the largest in the U.S., including 4 successful births. The Zoo recently developed a 724 acres (290 hectares) property into its International Conservation Center (ICC), a conservation, breeding and education center with the primary focus on African elephants. The facility includes a 10,000 sq. ft. elephant barn that is currently home to 3 elephants, including “Jackson,” one of the most valuable breeding bulls in the country.
The Pittsburgh Zoo has developed a number of international partnerships for elephants, including a formal partnership with the Institute for Zoological and Wildlife Research (IZW) in Berlin, and a unique “sister zoo” relationship with ZooWuppertal in Germany, now a very successful ten year partnership. Dr. Baker is currently coordinating research efforts on African elephants in the wild in collaboration with IZW, ZooParc de Beauval in France, the National Zoo in South Africa, the SA Biobank, and the University of Western Cape, SA.
David R. Blasko is currently Director of Animal Care at The Mirage Hotel & Casino. David as past Director of Animal Operations at Six Flags Marine World, was responsible for all aspects of the care and husbandry for a diverse collection of more than 3,000 mammals, birds, reptiles and invertebrates of the land, sea and air. Species in his charge included African and Asian elephants, killer whales, bottlenose dolphins, Pacific walruses, California sea lions, Pacific harbor seals, Bengal tigers, mountain lions, primates, giraffes Magellanic penguins, hornbills, a variety of raptors, parrots and other birds, sharks, coral, warm- and cold-water fish and invertebrates, butterflies, white-throated monitor lizards and lesser anteaters, among others.
Blasko began his career at Sea World of Ohio, and came to the Six Flags Marine World park (then Marine World Africa USA) in 1982, serving as Elephant Training Supervisor for 20 years. A respected consultant on elephant care, training and safety for other zoos, government agencies (USDA/APHIS, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, California Fish & Game, etc.), and to private owners, Blasko is past president of the national Elephant Managers Association and an instructor for the Principles of Elephant Management School of the American Zoo & Aquarium Association. He served on the steering committee of the Asian and African Elephant Species Survival Program management group, helping preserve elephants in zoos and in the wild.
During his tenure at Marine World, Blasko and the elephants in his charge participated in groundbreaking efforts to establish and refine artificial insemination techniques and procedures for African elephants. Scientific studies benefiting elephants in zoos and in the wild, including work with elephant foot care, dental care, ultrasonic communication, chemical communication, locomotion, DNA analysis, and pioneering veterinary care procedures including infrared light treatments were among Blasko’s cooperative research efforts at Six Flags Marine World. He presented papers on elephant care at numerous Elephant Managers Association and American Zoo and Aquarium Association conferences.
Blasko is on the Board of Directors of The International Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums and a past board member of the International Elephant Foundation. He is past president of the Elephant Managers Association and a professional member of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. Blasko holds a Wildlife Law Enforcement certificate from the California Department of Fish & Game.
Dr. Freeman is an Assistant Professor of Conservation Studies in New Century College at George Mason University (GMU). Elizabeth received a B.S. in Biology from Vanderbilt University, a M.S. in Biology from Virginia Commonwealth University, and a Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Policy from George Mason University. She is a behavioral endocrinologist whose interests involve conducting innovative research that generates data that can be used to enhance the reproductive success of endangered species and aid conservation management of both in situ and ex situ populations. As such, she has over 10 years of experience conducting behavioral analyses on a wide range of species from a parasitic wasp to elephants and rhinos. This includes experience conducting elephant and black rhino research in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa.
Dr. Freeman is an affiliated faculty member to the Zoo and Aquarium Leadership graduate program, the Mason Center of Conservation Studies, and the Environmental Science & Policy department at GMU. She also holds a Research Associate position with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI). Elizabeth enjoys teaching conservation courses and sharing her passion for wildlife while mentoring undergraduate and graduate students.
Gary Hayward obtained his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Otago in New Zealand in 1972, where he developed the procedure of agarose gel electrophoresis for fractionating DNA molecules of different sizes. He then did postdoctoral research in Paris, Heidelberg and Chicago before joining the faculty at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, where he carried out pioneering work on the molecular genetics, evolution and gene regulation of human herpesviruses HSV, HCMV, EBV and KSHV. He became a full professor in the Departments of Oncology, Pathology and Pharmacology in 1988 and established a well-funded multi-faculty Research Program in Viral Oncology where he trained numerous graduate and postgraduate students, many of whom have moved on to lead their own academic biomedical research programs in aspects of human viral diseases.
To say that Dr. Gary Hayward is an important figure in the elephant conservation and research community is an understatement. After a career studying human herpesvirus diseases, Dr. Hayward proceeded to become the leading “virus detective” carrying out research into understanding Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus (EEHV) and its impact on both captive and wild Asian and African elephant populations worldwide. EEHV was first identified in 1999 by Dr. Laura Richman under the tutelage of Dr. Hayward, and he has been researching this novel “Proboscivirus” branch of the herpesvirus family extensively ever since. Dr. Hayward and his team identified all seven known species of EEHV and the numerous highly diverged subtypes and strains of each through “genetic fingerprinting” as well as carrying out genomic DNA sequencing and phylogenetic analysis. Their work allows researchers to compare EEHV with similar diseases and understand more about how it affects elephants, facilitating the development of diagnostic PCR and serology tests and research into treatments and vaccines. It is safe to say that nearly all work being done to fight EEHV can be traced back to Dr. Hayward and his findings.
Dr. Hayward has an expansive list of over 200 peer-reviewed publications including 25 describing his EEHV studies and can be regularly seen presenting internationally at conferences, sharing his expertise and experience.
Dr. Wendy Kiso is currently the Principal Scientist in Assisted Reproduction at Colossal Biosciences. Prior to joining Colossal Biosciences, she was the Director of Conservation and Research at the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation for 10 years, and became the Conservation Manager at White Oak Conservation after they acquired the Ringling elephant herd.
Dr. Kiso’s work reaches from conservation research and reproductive technology in the United States and in Sri Lanka. She obtained her B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of California, Irvine and graduated from the Exotic Animal Training and Management Program (EATM) at Moorpark College, after which she received a Master of Natural and Applied Science degree from Missouri State University. Dr. Kiso received her Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Public Policy at George Mason University in partnership with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Washington, D.C. For the last 20 years, Dr. Kiso’s focus has been Asian and African elephant conservation, and optimizing assisted reproductive techniques in elephants.
Chase LaDue has a PhD in Environmental Science and Public Policy from George Mason University. He received a BSc in Animal Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation from Canisius College, and a MS in Biology from Western Kentucky University. Chase is an integrative ecologist with research interests in animal behavior, chemical ecology, physiology, and conservation biology, and he has over 10 years of experience studying the behavioral ecology of Asian and African elephants around the world. Chase utilizes a “field to fence” approach to characterize the behavioral physiology of free-ranging elephants to enhance the well-being of elephants in human care.
Most recently, he is researching musth in Asian elephants in Sri Lanka and at facilities throughout North America to better understand its contextual variation for applications in conservation and management. In addition to serving as an Advisor to IEF, Chase is the Publications Editor for the Elephant Managers Association and serves on the board of the Conservation Committee of the Animal Behavior Society. He is also passionate about connecting elephants with the general public, and besides teaching biology to undergraduate students at George Mason University, he has helped create outreach materials for IEF, TED-Ed, Skype-a-Scientist, and other groups.
Paul D Ling received a PhD in Microbiology and spent his graduate and postdoctoral careers investigating human herpesviruses Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV) and Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) respectively. He continued his work on EBV and other animal gammaherpesviruses after moving to Houston and Baylor College of Medicine to start his own research program. In 2010, following the death of Mac at the Houston zoo from EEHV, a collaboration was established between the Houston zoo and Dr. Lings’ lab to address the devastating disease caused by this virus, especially in Asian elephant calves. Since that time, his laboratory has leveraged its experience and knowledge of human herpesviruses to combat the threat of EEHV in elephants.
His lab developed qPCR tests to detect all EEHV species known to be endemic within both African and Asian elephants. These tests are used for surveillance of elephants in the United States, Africa and several countries in South East Asia. With a grant from IEF, his lab used these new tests to show that elephants in Southern India shed the same species of EEHV found in captive elephants in the United States. His lab, along with collaborators at the Houston zoo, also used the qPCR tests to describe EEHV viremia, shedding, and associated changes in CBCs during the course of EEHV-associated hemorrhagic disease. Along with his collaborators at Johns Hopkins (Dr. Gary Hayward) and the Baylor College of Medicine Human genome sequencing center, his lab determined the genomic sequence of EEHV1A, the most deadly form of EEHV in Asian elephants, and also EEHV4. More recently, his lab developed an Asian elephant-specific IFN-g Elispot assay for the purpose of interrogating anti-EEHV T-cell responses and a novel serology assay that can distinguish antibody responses between different the EEHV types in Asian elephants. These tools have formed a foundation for developing and evaluating an EEHV vaccine, which his laboratory is currently focused on producing. Dr. Ling previously served as Secretary of the Epstein-Barr virus association and chaired the Microbial Pathogenesis and Cancer study section for the American Cancer Society.
He is currently an Associate Professor (with tenure) in the Department of Microbiology and Virology at Baylor College of Medicine, a member of the EEHV advisory group Steering committee and is also an Associate Editor of Plos Pathogens.
As IEF Advisor and Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus expert, Dr. Paul Ling postulated during a recent interview.
Harry Peachey began his career with elephants at the Indianapolis zoo in 1974 and began working at the Columbus Zoo in 1976. In 1987, Harry was promoted to the Zoo’s Elephant Manager and Head keeper of Pachyderms. During his cumulative of almost 40 years of experience with captive elephant management, Harry has worked with both Asian and African elephants, including males of both species. During his tenure at the Columbus Zoo, Harry has traveled to both Asia and Africa, often in conjunction with in situ conservation projects that have received support from the Columbus Zoo, and has been fortunate enough to come into contact with both wild and “domesticated” elephants.
In April of 1998, he spent several weeks in Indonesia, a portion of his time in Jakarta meeting with government officials in both the CITES Office and the Department of Forestry. In April of 2000, Harry served on the Steering Committee for a meeting held in Bogor, Indonesia to review the problems facing elephant conservation in Sumatra. Since his return from Indonesia and his exposure to the difficult circumstances confronting both the Elephant Training Centers and in situ elephant conservation in Sumatra, issues which have been complicated by the economic crisis in Asia,
Harry has been actively involved in fundraising to support veterinary care for Sumatra’s captive elephant population. Harry has also served as an elephant consultant to several other zoos. Harry served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Elephant Manager’s Association, and is currently a member of the AZA Elephant TAG/SSP Management Group.
Heidi Riddle is the co-founder and Director of Operations at Riddle’s Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary, a unique Arkansas nonprofit organization dedicated to both Asian and African elephants. It is the first and only facility to accept any elephant in need, and to provide them with a peaceful, permanent refuge. The sanctuary is a well-respected international leader in elephant management, education and conservation.
Ms. Riddle developed and instructs at the annual international School for Elephant Management attended by elephant handlers from institutions worldwide. Ms. Riddle also co-founded the annual Elephant Ultrasound Workshop for wildlife veterinarians. In 2001, Ms. Riddle was invited to join the Asian Elephant Specialist Group of the International Union of the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The group’s mission is to work toward’s conservation of Asian elephants worldwide.
Dennis Schmitt, DVM, Ph.D., wears the hat of a number of different organizations. As a professor at Southwest Missouri State University, he instructs his students in advanced assisted reproduction. While serving as a consulting veterinarian, Schmitt specializes in elephant medical and reproductive management to elephant facilities worldwide. As owner of Reproductive Resources, he operates an assisted reproduction program for the domestic animal industry. Schmitt is the leading elephant reproductive physiologist in North America and serves as a Research and Reproductive Advisor for the AZA Elephant TAG/SSP Management Group. He announced the first successful conception by artificial insemination of an elephant, an Asian, in June of 1998 and was involved in the subsequent first two successful artificial inseminations of African elephants in North America in 1998.
Schmitt continues to perform inseminations with over fifteen additional conceptions to date. Schmitt also conducts workshops internationally to train veterinarians and wildlife specialists in the technology of ultrasonography and semen collection.