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, Director & Founder
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 in educational exhibits. 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, Animal Care & Education Specialist
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.
Kevin Rockwell, Animal Care & Education Specialist
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.
Rhiannon Brown, Animal Care & Education Specialist
Rhiannon presents a variety of school programs as well as special event programming. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Western Connecticut State University. While a student, Rhiannon worked for several years in the WCSU lab where she prepared lab activities for university classes. Also, in her position with the Barnard Environmental Studies Magnet School in New Haven, CT, Rhiannon works in a science-based Discovery Room with students in Grades K-8, as well as engages in animal and greenhouse care. From a very young age, Rhiannon has been fascinated by wildlife and the natural world when she explored and studied local amphibians and reptiles. Her affinity for animals is further exemplified by her adoption of three rescue cats and two geckos, whom she cares for.
Mike McLeod, Animal Care & Education Specialist
Mike serves an important role in our outreach programming by teaching both in school settings as well as supporting special events programming. He also assists with the care of our wide diversity of Animal Ambassadors. Mike holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. His experience includes animal care, husbandry and education with the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, New York, as well as trail upkeep and laboratory work in prior positions. As a Rugby Captain, Mike has mentored young athletes and helped them to develop their skills. Since childhood, he has possessed a keen interest in the natural world, particularly in reptiles and amphibians. As a result, he has cared for many exotic animals both in his youth and as an adult. With a passion for environmental stewardship & education, Mike is an integral member of our team.
Jax Mulligan, Animal Care & Education Specialist
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, Administrative Manager
Jennifer handles many aspects of the office management including program scheduling, animal adoption requests and development. 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. We welcome her interest and enthusiasm with regards to 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.
Kathy Juliano, Database Specialist
Kathy J. handles a variety of database duties, including list coordination & research. Kathy has a bachelor’s degree in Art from Central Connecticut State University and a master’s degree in Gerontology from the College of New Rochelle. Kathy came to know Animal Embassy through her work with a local nature center where she was employed as the Visitor Services Supervisor for many years. Her previous experience includes estate management and the care of livestock on a 15-acre estate in Stamford, CT. Kathy’s kind nature and love for all living things is evident in her work as a hospice volunteer, as well as in her rescue of a kitten who she welcomed into her home.
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.