About us

SWAVA was created by the keepers, interns, and volunteers of the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary. Meet three keepers at the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary who are interested in making SWAVA a success with your help. Below are their bios.

Mandy Jones graduated from Texas Tech University in May 2002 with a BS in zoology. After graduating, she began working on my Master’s in Science education. Bandy wasn’t all together sure what she wanted to do with her degree. Her first love had always been animals, and she had a dream of working at the San Diego Zoo. She was offered an internship at IEAS in May 2003, and soon found herself training my fellow interns. She was hired on as a keeper in June 2003. She has always been interested in conservation, breeding, and reintroduction programs. During her experiences at the Sanctuary, she has had the opportunity to raise baby tigers and learn just what it takes to make a place like the sanctuary work. Dealing with everything from PR to raising money, as well as all the animal stuff sure is a change of pace from what she thought that she would be doing. Most people think that in this line of work, you just get to play with the animals all day. Although the job is very rewarding, Bandy quickly found out that it sure is more than just scooping poop!

Cathy Gilbert graduated from Texas A&M; University with a BS in Wildlife Ecology and Management. After graduating, she worked at Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation (WRR) in Kendalia, TX. Christi worked at WRR for a year rehabilitating native wildlife and releasing them back into the wild. She also cared for the resident animals which included bears, jaguars, cougars, and a variety of primates. Her education and the experience she gained at WRR helped Christi get an internship at the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary (IEAS). She is now the Lead Keeper/Asst. Animal Behaviorist of IEAS. She has helped care for the 58 resident felines and seven bears. Christi also has been working along side Animal Behaviorist, Louis Dorfman. She has helped raise five white tiger cubs, two cheetah cubs, and is currently helping two 10 month old black bear cubs make a transition from life in the wild to life in captivity after their mother was shot. She is continually learning about animal behavior. Every day at IEFS brings about a new experience. It has been four years now since she began her time at IEAS, and she has no plans of leaving. This is her home, with her husband, the felines and bears. There is no place she would rather be.

Tracey Long graduated from Penn State University in May 2004 with a BS in Animal Bioscience and a minor in Animal Science. While in school, she worked at The Pennsylvania State Deer Research Center where she gained experience working with white-tailed deer. She also volunteered and interned at Centre Wildlife Care, a wildlife rehabilitation center in Lemont, PA. Here she cared for orphaned and injured wildlife for the purpose of releasing them back into the wild. Trish always knew that she wanted to work with animals. After her first day at the rehab center she knew that she wanted to work with wildlife. In December 2004, she was offered an internship at IEAS. After three months, she was asked to stay on to work the next session. Trish gratefully accepted and continued working until May 2005. A short time after, she returned to IEAS as a full time keeper. Working at IEFS has taught her so much about the care and management of big cats, as well as all of the aspects involved in running a sanctuary. Each new day provides a new experience and an opportunity to learn. Trish has discovered that surviving in the animal world requires hard work and dedication. With this, the rewards can be endless.