The Animal Embassy team is a tight knit group of caring, compassionate professionals. We have a strong commitment to education, the community, wildlife and the environment.
Chris Evers is a naturalist specializing in wildlife conservation and environmental education. In 2002, Chris founded Animal Embassy, dedicated to exotic animal rescue/adoption and environmental education. Chris brings over twenty-five years of experience teaching children, working with nature centers and nonprofit environmental organizations, and developing educational programming.
Chris has rescued or adopted more than 500 exotic animals over the years and currently maintains over 100 non-releasable animals. He has traveled extensively in the United States, Africa, India, and Central America to photograph and study some of the most critically endangered animals. Chris has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science. He has experience working with raptors, big cats, bears, wolves, crocodilians and venomous snakes.
Animal Care & Education Team
Robin Minerd, Assistant Curator
Robin assists with daily management of Animal Embassy Studios, teaches Animal Embassy programs and coordinates the care of our collection of rescued and adopted animals. Robin has studied Environmental Science at Purchase College and has experience working as a naturalist, and environmental educator. While living in Colorado, Robin worked with the rescue of wolves and wolf-dog crosses being kept as pets. Prior to being hired with Animal Embassy, Robin served as the Assistant Director of the Weinberg Nature Center. Her dedication to animal welfare and proper husbandry is exemplary and she is an invaluable member of the Animal Embassy team.
Alisa’s diverse responsibilities include facility management, coordination of special projects, education and animal care. Alisa holds a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Biology from Unity College in Maine and has over five years’ experience in environmental and nature resource education and interpretation. Additionally, Alisa is a Certified Interpretive Guide through the National Association of Interpretation and has extensive experience in interpreting important natural, cultural, and historical resources for people of all ages. Alisa’s previous positions as a Conservation & Education Program Leader with the Salato Wildlife Education Center (Frankfort, KY) and as a Veterinary Assistant have equipped her with a wealth of experience for her current position. Her volunteer experience with raptors, along with an internship with the Oglebay Good Zoo (Wheeling, VA) is further testament to her commitment to wildlife conservation and environmental education.
Kevin serves an important role in our outreach programming by teaching in school settings, presenting to library patrons, as well as supporting special events programming. He also assists with the care of our wide diversity of Animal Ambassadors. Kevin has a bachelor's degree in Psychology from Providence College and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Teaching for Secondary Education. With experience as an educator and zoo patrol assistant with the Beardsley Zoo, Kevin began with Animal Embassy as an intern and soon after joined us as a member of staff. Having worked for several years as a writing tutor, Kevin has the exceptional ability to relate to students one-on-one, in addition to his skill in working with large groups. His passion for educating children – and people of all ages - about wildlife, the environment, and diversity, is a true asset to Animal Embassy.
Deszani Flemmings, Animal Care & Education Specialist
Des teaches in a variety of settings including preschools, elementary schools and summer camps & also supports our special events. He assists with the care of our Animal Ambassadors. In the role of zookeeper, he has worked at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo with the North American River Otter, large cats, Gray Fox and the Pronghorn. In his zookeeper position with the Hope Zoo in Kingston, Jamaica, he worked with the endangered Jamaican Iguana. Pursuing knowledge about wildlife and nature has been a life-long passion for Des and he delights in sharing his understanding with people of all ages. Des studied Electrical Engineering in Jamaica’s University of Technology and was employed as an electrician before coming to the U.S. His diverse skill set is an asset for Animal Embassy where he has the opportunity to draw from his experience on all fronts.
Lauren assists with the daily care of our wide diversity of Animal Ambassadors. She also teaches our science-based after-school programming and presents at special events . Lauren has a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from the University of Connecticut and diverse experience in the field of animal rescue & rehabilitation, as well as in animal husbandry. She has interned and worked for a variety of organizations including the New England Aquarium Rescue & Rehabilitation unit, the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Boyd, Texas, and the Connecticut Beardsley & Memphis Zoos. Her varied experience includes environmental education and interpretation with several of these institutions. Lauren strives to inspire people and hopes to help ensure a better world through wildlife education.
Christina serves an integral role in our outreach programming by teaching in school settings as well as supporting special events programming. She also assists with the care of our wide diversity of Animal Ambassadors. Christina holds a bachelor’s degree from University of Maryland, College Park, in Environmental Science and Policy: Biodiversity and Conservation Biology. Several years before taking a position with us, Christina completed a college internship with Animal Embassy. Her diverse experience includes her role as a research specialist with the University of Connecticut’s Marine Biotechnology Laboratory. She has also worked with children in a variety of settings including lifeguarding, swim instruction and gymnastics coaching. Additionally, Christina has volunteered with the Sierra Club identifying and removing invasive plants as well as advocating for this important cause. Christina is passionate about preserving the Long Island Sound ecosystem and has a love for all creatures great and small.
Jax assists with the care of our wide diversity of Animal Ambassadors. Additionally, she teaches science-based after-school programming and assists at special events. Jax is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in English at Western Connecticut State University. She has also avidly studied Biology at WCSU. Jax has worked as a Girl Scouts camp counselor in Weston, CT, as well as volunteered with an ASPCA in Saratoga Springs, NY. Her introduction to Animal Embassy came through an Animal Embassy internship which later developed into a part-time position. Jax’s love for all types of animals, her passion for learning, and her desire to hone her animal husbandry skills, continually propel her forward in her career at Animal Embassy.
Behind the Scenes Team
Jennifer Balbes, Assistant Director
Jennifer manages the administrative aspects of Animal Embassy including marketing, business development, program scheduling and animal adoption requests. Jennifer has a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs/Intercultural Understanding and a master’s degree in Tourism Administration, both from The George Washington University. After moving from a career in the travel industry to non-profit administration, Jennifer came to know Animal Embassy through her work with a local nature center. She has a keen interest and an enthusiasm for the promotion of environmental education and understanding of diversity through wildlife.
Kathy Sabitsky, Billing Manager
Kathy S. handles invoicing, bookkeeping and many other accounting duties. Kathy is a graduate of Lauralton Hall and Connecticut Business Institute and has worked in accounting for over 25 years. In addition to her valuable contribution to Animal Embassy, she also works with Building Beyond Borders, a non-profit organization in Norwalk, as well as a children’s community development center in Westport. Kathy is an avid volunteer in her community. Her family’s adoption of Gary, a rescue dog from Hurricane Katrina, demonstrates her affinity for animals.
Miguel Barreto, Consultant
Miguel designed and created the Animal Embassy website. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design from the Pontifical University Javeriana in Colombia, a certificate in social and environmental conflict management from the University of Peace (UN) in Costa Rica, and a master’s degree in Internet Business Systems from Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, NY. Miguel has over fifteen years of experience working with environmental and multicultural related non-profit organizations, both in the U.S. and abroad. He works full time for Creative Connections of Norwalk, and is dedicated to the environment and fostering appreciation for cultural diversity through education.
John Krumpelbeck, Facilities Consultant
John has collaborated with Animal Embassy for many years in the design and installation of our exhibits and animal enclosures. He draws on his extensive background and experience in exhibit installation and habitat creation. Most recently, John served as Operations Manager with a local nature center. His skills are diverse: he has studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York and has a particular interest in graphic art and painting. John also has a life-long interest in keeping and caring for tropical fish and reptiles.