Our Team & Partners |
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Sabrina Brando is the director of AnimalConcepts and is pursuing a PhD at the University of Stirling in Scotland on the topic of “24/7 across lifespan: zoo animal and human wellbeing”. She is a Research Associate with the Smithsonian Institution, manages 24/7 Animal Welfare and is the Primate Care Training Program Coordinator for the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance. She also is a Level 1 Instructor for international charity ‘The Shape of Enrichment’. She has worked in and with the global zoo and wildlife profession, including zoos, aquariums, wildlife centres and sanctuaries for 27 years. Sabrina has a BSc. in psychology and an MSc. in animal studies, and completed a Compassion Fatigue Strategies certificate with the University of Florida Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program, College of Veterinary Medicine, and is a Certified Compassion Fatigue Educator.

Globally known as an animal welfare scientist, she prefers to say, ‘I am in the business of animal happiness, PS: the human animal too!’. Animal care professionals are playing a key role in animal wellbeing. Dedication to caring for animals and the people who care for them is the core of AnimalConcepts’s philosophy, recognising that the human-animal relationship is essential for the wellbeing of both. Sabrina feels compassion awareness is key in the animal care profession in order for animal care professionals to serve animals and people with compassion and integrity. “My career purpose is to promote positive wellbeing for animals and the people who care for them.”

Through AnimalConcepts Sabrina has to date organised over 350 events beside presenting at conferences, consulting for organisations worldwide and active engagement with non-profits through pro bono work. She teaches as a guest lecturer at various universities and colleges as well as many zoos, aquariums and sanctuaries worldwide, on animal welfare, behaviour, environmental enrichment, animal training, the human-animal relationship, and other topics.

Sabrina serves on zoo expert groups and collaborates on a wide variety of research projects regarding animal care and wellbeing, behaviour, and advocacy, serves as a reviewer on academic journals, contributes chapters to animal wellbeing books, and has published extensively both popular and academic articles.

Sabrina is a Chief Storyteller. She loves storytelling and writing - particularly about animals, the human-animal connection, and the natural world. She often wears a button with “I love stories”. The button sparks a lot of great conversations and storytelling about animals among many other topics, from people she meets at conferences to strangers on a plane. If you have a story you want to share about the animal(s) you care(d) for, a special friendship you have with your favourite animal, a great action for animals or for the planet you were involved in, or anything else that makes your heart sing concerning animals and nature, Sabrina would love to hear from you!

Download Sabrina's CV including publications
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Caitlin Ball is the executive office assistant at AnimalConcepts, working on research projects, publications, communications, and operations.

Caitlin’s passion for animals and conservation began with spending most of her childhood outdoors. Having been raised in southern Africa, Central & North America, and the Middle East, she was immersed in and learned about a wide variety of biomes and animals. As a result, she has always felt strongly about the importance of protecting biodiversity and helping it flourish. Her dedication to this solidified during 8 years in southern Africa where she spent free time volunteering with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty for Animals and visiting sanctuaries and game reserves, learning about the ongoing mass extinction event.

In 2018 she graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a degree in International Relations focused on development and global political ecology. During her education she took a series of philosophy courses that related to human-animal-environment relationships. Additionally, she spent several months in India doing a field study program on sustainable development and social change, completing an independent research project on water conservation project management in Sikkim.

Over the course of Caitlin’s professional experience she has worked at the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the United States Agency for International Development’s Water Resources and Environment Office in Jordan, and US Embassies in Jordan and the Republic of Georgia. Through her travels and these various positions she has studied many languages and has published magazine articles, blog posts, and success stories on a variety of topics, including the zoo and aquarium community, extinction, the climate crisis, and resource conservation. Furthermore, she has gained experience in a diverse range of skills that includes writing, outreach, administration, diplomacy, research, and event management, among others.

Specific projects she looks forward to working on include human-animal relationships, primate care, welfare and protection, and policy research.
Long Term Partners

AnimalConcepts is delighted to partner with highly experienced, knowledgeable, committed, and passionate long term partners, learn more about our partners below!
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Mark Kingston Jones

Mark has been involved in the animal welfare field since 2004. He is the Co-Founder of ‘Team Building with BITE’, and Workshop Coordinator and Level 1 Instructor for international charity ‘The Shape of Enrichment’. In addition to running 34 of his own Student Environmental Enrichment Courses, in the UK, he has been an Instructor on 25 SHAPE workshops and 5 others, in the UK, USA, Indonesia, South Africa, Romania, Russia, Lithuania, Uganda, Vietnam, Singapore, Armenia, India and Croatia.

After completing his BSc in Psychology from the University of Stirling, he began his career at Blair Drummond Safari Park, Scotland. He then moved to Howletts and Port Lympne Wild Animal Parks, Kent, where previous to becoming self-employed in 2014, he worked as ‘Head of Education and Research’. In addition to organizing talks, workshops and conferences he has organized over 155 team building enrichment events, as well as working with keepers to design and implement enrichment ideas.

Mark is the SHAPE-UK & Ireland Events Co-Coordinator, an Enrichment Advisor for the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) Animal Behaviour and Training Working Group, an American Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Enrichment Instructor, and Trustee for Lakeview Monkey Sanctuary. He has been an author/co-author on 13 publications and presented 62 talks and workshops at conferences, both nationally and internationally.

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Chris Hales

Chris is a level 2 Instructor for SHAPE, having run 33 Student Environmental Enrichment Courses in the UK, and 8 SHAPE keeper workshops in Brazil, India, the USA and UK. He worked as a wild animal keeper, filling numerous roles including departmental head and deputy head, between 1998-2018. He has specialised in carnivores and hoofstock, but has experience across a wide range of taxa. He continues to work in the Animal Industry, as a Ranger at Port Lympne Reserve, running guest experiences, in addition to continuing to organised and run corporate enrichment workshops, team building days, and equine enrichment workshops.

Chris specialises in designing, developing, and constructing complex but user friendly enrichment devices, taking the practical viewpoint that to be functional they must also work for the keepers operating them in order to advance animal care. His passion is sharing these designs and skills both online and through practical conference presentations, as well as the various workshops and team builds he teaches. He has presented talks and posters at several national and international conferences, winning titles for best presentation at two of these conferences, along with being an invited speaker at the Brazilian Regional Environmental Enrichment Conference. He has been a co-author on 4 published papers and over the last few years has been heavily involved in team training, co-founding Team Building with BITE.

Team Building with BITE is pleased to continue our partnership with AnimalConcepts, in promoting enrichment efforts globally. Over the last 10 years we have collaborated on many projects aimed at enhancing animals welfare efforts and are looking forward to developing new and varied ways to deliver enrichment learning on an even wider scale.
Mark Kingston Jones & Chris Hales
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Irma Verhoeven MA

Irma completed her bachelor degree in science education through an internship at a sea mammal park in the Netherlands researching pinniped behaviour. After graduating and teaching science for a couple of years she became team leader education at the same park learning and experiencing sea mammal behaviour. She developed numerous educational programmes based on respect for animals, animal caregivers and the natural environment by sharing knowledge. Co-working with other international Zoo educators to increase the quality of education while improving the animal exhibits and human-animal encounters, was a challenging and inspiring part of the work.

After 7 years she decided to concentrate on cultural anthropology as the human-nature relationship became a major field of interest. The next step in her career involved teaching students about this relationship, including sustainability, leadership and ethics, and working in the field of sustainable urban development. As project manager in the later Irma focused on social aspects, specifically community building and well-being of all city dwellers.

Irma has a close connection to Indigenous people from the north west coast of America as she has been working with native cultural centers and native people since the late 1990’s. Their relationship with, and stories and art about the natural world inspires her to work towards the common good.

The last couple of years Irma graduated in Environment & Development at the University for Peace in Costa Rica, while working as project manager for the secretariat of Earth Charter International. The first and overarching pillar of the Earth Charter says ’Respect and Care for the Community of Life’ re-enforcing the interconnection between all life on Earth.

Back in the Netherlands Irma wants to continue to use the Earth Charter principles as input in working towards a just, sustainable and peaceful global society in which well-being for the greater community of life is essential.

Irma loves (native) storytelling and her favourite story is ‘I will be a hummingbird’ by late Earth Charter champion Wangari Maathai.

You can find Irma on Twitter and on Linkedin.
As an educator I believe in Nelson Mandela's phrase 'Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world'. AnimalConcepts is working with the same attitude to improve the life of animals and the people that take care of them. In collaboration we can achieve much more, so let's go to work. Birds of a feather flock together. I am looking forward in collaborating with AnimalConcepts to contribute to increasing the animal care and welfare and the wellbeing of people that take care of them.
Irma Verhoeven
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Dr Sarah Chapman BVM&S MSc DZooMed MRCVS

Sarah qualified as a vet in June 2000 from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery, Edinburgh. After qualification, she worked in mixed animal practice in East Yorkshire where she also worked with exotics and wildlife. In September 2004 she began the Masters course in Wild Animal Health at the Royal Veterinary College and Zoological Society of London and completed her dissertation on the mortality of captive Gorillas. She then worked in Bedfordshire, where she gained her Certificate in Zoological Medicine and was part of the veterinary team at Woburn Safari Park. Following this post, she worked at Paignton Zoo for three years as Associate Veterinarian. She was then Head of Veterinary Services for Twycross Zoo for five years working with a large variety of large and small exotic animals. She was part of the senior management team and was an Honorary Assistant Professor of the University of Nottingham Veterinary School of Veterinary Medicine and Science.

Sarah is the leader of the health sub-group of the UK Elephant Welfare Group and a veterinary advisor for the Bongo Taxon Advisory Group. She was the veterinary advisor for the UK Elephant Specialist Group for 15 years. Her research interests include Great Ape heart disease, elephant herpes virus and animal welfare in captivity. Sarah gained her RCVS diploma in Zoo Medicine (Mammalian) in 2014 and became an RCVS Recognised Specialist in Zoo and Wildlife Medicine in 2015. She has spent time teaching in China and Romania, assessing zoos in Vietnam, Thailand and Sri Lanka and providing veterinary care to rescued primates in the Cameroon. She also works with local authorities on zoo and dangerous wild animal inspections and inspects premises under the new animal welfare regulations.

Chapman Zoo Consultancy was founded in 2017 and can be found on Facebook. Click on the link to contact Dr. Sarah Chapman.

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Mr Julian Chapman

Julian first became a keeper in 1978 starting as a junior keeper at ZSL Whipsnade Wild Animal Park. He continued working in the industry for over 35 years during which he reached the position of Senior Head-Keeper of Mammals at Paignton Zoo followed by Team Leader of Large Mammals at Twycross Zoo. During this time he gained both the Paddington College Zoo Animal Management and the City and Guilds Zoo Management Certificates, for which he was awarded the bronze medal and presented to HM The Queen.

Julian has been a zoo tutor for the Advanced Certificate in the Management of Zoo Animals and its replacement the Diploma in the Management of Zoo Animals and Aquaria. He also lectured on the Zoo Conservation Biology MSc based at Plymouth University as well as assisting numerous students involved with studies at zoos. Julian was on the committee for the Association of British and Irish Wild Animal Keepers and several committees of the Shape of Enrichment including the Shape-Regional Committee which he co-founded.

Julian helped co-ordinate the work of the Common Dormouse Captive Breeders Group which has seen the successful re-introduction of Common Dormice to many areas of the UK. Zoo and zoo habitat design is another area that he has been involved in particularly with several exhibits in Paignton Zoo Environmental Park and the development of Living Coasts. Julian is still actively involved with enrichment and often gives talks or workshops at various conferences as well as assisting with the setting up of a new course for zoo keepers. He also visited zoos Vietnam and Sri Lanka in 2019 providing enrichment training and assessing welfare.

Click on the link to contact Mr. Julian Chapman.
"We are very pleased to be continuing our collaboration with AnimalConcepts! Having worked with Sabrina over the 5 years, we know her passion for animals and people and feel the same about the importance of caring for both! We are looking forward to working on future training courses together, with the ultimate goal to improve animal welfare in captivity."
Dr. Sarah Chapman and Julian Chapman - Chapman Zoo Consultancy
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Martina Schiestl

Martina studied biology at the University of Innsbruck and got her Master’s Degree in ‘Behaviour, Neurobiology and Cognition’ at the University of Vienna. At the moment, she is studying to become a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Veterinary Sciences in Brno, Czech Republic. She started off training animals for research, working for the Ibis reintroduction and conservation project and flying with those birds, changed her life for the better.

Over the last 10 years she has managed research labs, executed scientific studies, and trained animals for different universities all over the world. She has experience in keeping, training, and running experiments with wild and captive corvids & parrots, as well as monkeys, pigs, sheep, dogs, rodents, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.

Her biggest passions are improving the lives of animals, as well as training animals for medical and research procedures and helping to improve human-animal communication. She is regularly invited to speak at animal training, welfare & research workshops and has also published and co-published peer-reviewed papers and presented her work at international conferences.

Martina’s life and work with animals are best represented by her two favourite citations:

‘Training should not mean breaking their fragile hearts.’ (Mark Bekoff)

‘Our prime purpose in this life is to help others, and if you cannot help them, at least do not hurt them.’ (Dalai Lama)