Photo: Project Chimps

The Team

  • Brooke Allen, Chimpanzee Caregiver

    Brooke has always been fascinated by animals. As a child, animals were what made her truly laugh. Brooke grew up on a ranch in Del Rio, Texas where she learned how to ride a horse before she knew how to walk. She always watched all the animal documentaries she could get her hands on. She attended Texas A&M University, and graduated with a degree in Animal Behavior and a minor in Psychology. In college, she achieved one of her biggest dreams – flying to Africa and working at a nonprofit rescue and rehabilitation sanctuary. It was in Africa where she experienced an array of primate species and her love for primatology blossomed. Brooke has had many roles in the animal field, ranging from vet tech, to animal trainer, to zoo keeper, until finally entering the primate sanctuary world. Though Brooke loves all animal species, chimpanzees have always had a special place in her heart. She feels incredibly lucky to work with them at her dream job as a caregiver at Project Chimps. When she’s not working with the chimps, Brooke enjoys exploring the local waterfalls with her beloved 7-year old Miniature Doberman, Tex.

  • Casey L. Taylor, JD, Director of Development

    Casey comes to Project Chimps from a conservation facility where she managed and implemented all giving programs including the major donor annual fund, corporate sponsorships, and grant writing. She graduated with her Juris Doctor degree from Barry University School of Law and received her Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Florida Association of Nonprofit Organizations. Trained as an attorney, Casey has worked in the animal protection field for the last several years, including development, outreach, and volunteer program management at a great ape sanctuary in Florida. She truly found her calling working for great apes. She leads the development, communications, and outreach programs for Project Chimps. When she is not working for chimpanzees, Casey enjoys wildlife rehabbing, companion animal fostering through Save the Voiceless and the Animal Coalition of Tampa, kayaking, snorkeling, and spending time with her own menagerie of animals at home.

  • Gabriel Waters, Director of Research and Behavior

    Gabe has extensive research and training experience with chimpanzees and other species. His focus has been on applied behavioral issues, including research at the prestigious Max Planck Institute in Germany. He works directly with the chimpanzees to support their transition to sanctuary, promote their well-being by continuing the training and enrichment protocols to which the chimpanzees have become accustomed, and by documenting any behavioral changes the chimpanzees experience in their transition. Waters will work with behavioral scientists from the academic and research communities to create studies that can better inform care for captive chimpanzees.

  • Janie Gibbons, Chimpanzee Caregiver

    Janie has been working with chimpanzees since 2009. After graduating from the University of Northern Colorado with a major in Psychology and a minor in Anthropology, Janie attended graduate school in Washington State studying Primate Behavior. She left Washington for Florida, where she worked for Save the Chimps for five years. She is enjoying being a part of the Project Chimps team and is looking forward to all of the adventures to come.  Besides chimpanzees, Janie adores her cats Maeby, George Michael, and Lucille.

  • Joel Feller, Chimpanzee Caregiver

    Joel’s love of primates began at a very early age. After enrolling at Central Washington University, he dived right into the world of Primatology, specifically the world of chimpanzees. He worked at CWU’s Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute in Ellensburg, WA, and interacted and learned from three of his first chimpanzee friends and teachers; Loulis, Tatu, and Dar. Joel also volunteered with the team at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest while he was at CWU, and learned from his next set of chimpanzee teachers, the Cle Elum Seven. Upon graduating with dual degrees in Biology and Primate Behavior and Ecology, Joel accepted a position and joined the team at Save the Chimps, home to over 250 chimpanzees where he served as a caregiver, friend, and student of the chimpanzees before coming to Project Chimps. When not devoting the day to entertaining and caring for the chimpanzees at Project Chimps, you can find Joel hiking and investigating the local thrift and antique stores for anything primate related.

  • Laura Mayo, Manager of Chimpanzee Care

    Laura has over 30 years of experience caring for primates– chimpanzees, orangutans, gorillas, bonobos, along with many different monkey species. Although not primates, she loved caring for sloths too! After many years at Zoo Atlanta, most recently as Assistant Curator of Primates, she is thrilled with the opportunity to work in a sanctuary.  As Manager of Chimpanzee Care, Laura works with the Project Chimps team to ensure all of the chimpanzees residing at Project Chimps get their fair share of food, blankets, enrichment, and ape fun so they can enjoy the rest of their days in sanctuary.  Laura hopes to instill a love of caring for the chimpanzees to the care staff she supervises so they will enjoy a rewarding lifetime career in animal care.

  • Lindsay Vanderhoogt, Programs Assistant

    Growing up as an only child in a home full of animals, Lindsay learned to love animals from a very early age. After meeting Alan, one of Zoo Atlanta’s most handsome orangutans at the age of 16, her love for great apes blossomed. She graduated from Guilford College with a major in biology and a minor in nonprofit management. After college, she was introduced to the primate sanctuary world as an intern for a great ape sanctuary in Florida – this experience reaffirmed her passion for primates. After her internship, she went on to work for a national animal advocacy organization in Boston, where she learned more about the plight of chimpanzees in laboratories. While in Boston, she organized and led an all-volunteer group of activists dedicated to raising awareness about the palm oil industry and its impact on orangutans and other wildlife in South East Asia. After dealing with enough snow for a lifetime, Lindsay returned to her native home of Atlanta and somehow snagged her dream job of working for Project Chimps. Lindsay is currently the Programs Assistant for Project Chimps and is loving every minute of it. When she’s not working for the chimps, she enjoys photography, writing, and being the ultimate helicopter mom to her beloved dog, Winston.

  • Max Jones, Facilities Manager

    Max Jones was born in a log cabin in nearby Mineral Bluff, GA and his family at one time owned the land that currently houses Project Chimps. Max joined the staff at the former sanctuary, Gorilla Haven, as Head of Maintenance three years before Project Chimps acquired the property. He agreed to provide some continuity by remaining the Facilities Manager at Project Chimps sanctuary. Between growing up in northern Georgia and joining the Project Chimps staff, Max has had an independent and varied history working for himself and owning businesses in areas including construction, general contracting, real estate, satellite dish installation and sales, pavement maintenance, and quality control. Max has also raised and shown championship quarter horses and bird dogs. Max currently lives in the area with his girlfriend, horses, and a big old mutt.

  • Michael Cullen-Bedoya, Chimpanzee Caregiver

    Michael returns to the primate sanctuary community and joins Project Chimps after a year conducting and organizing animal management plans for a science museum in Orlando, Florida.  Michael earned his degree in Zoo Animal Technology from Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Florida. Trained in the animal field, Michael took a position right after college as a caregiver at a great ape sanctuary in Florida. While there, Michael gained experience welcoming new residents to the sanctuary, working with physically and mentally disabled apes, providing day to day ape care, and coordinating the sanctuary’s intern program. Florida born and raised, Michael is enjoying the true seasons and all the beauty that the Application Mountains have to offer. When not caring for the chimps, Michael enjoys exploring his new surroundings and knowing everything there is to know about The Walking Dead.

  • Mike Seres, Director of Chimpanzee Management

    Seres is the world’s leading expert on chimpanzee socialization and group formation – he stopped counting at 5,000 introduction sessions. He has worked with chimpanzees at many facilities around the world – 14 years with chimpanzees at a major research facility in the United States, several years at Max Planck in Germany, Stichting AAP in Spain and the Netherlands, the Budapest and Toronto Zoos, the New York Blood Center facility in Liberia, and more. He came to Project Chimps from Kumamoto Sanctuary in Japan, which houses retired biomedical research chimps from all over Japan. Seres leads Project Chimps’ introductions, socialization, and ongoing chimpanzee group maintenance.

  • Sarah Baeckler Davis, President and CEO

    Sarah Baeckler Davis is a primatologist, a non-practicing lawyer, a nonprofit professional, a fundraiser, and a bridge builder. She has worked with and for chimpanzees since 1997, when she met Washoe, the famous “sign language chimp,” in grad school. She has a graduate degree in primatology from Central Washington University and a juris doctor from Lewis and Clark Law School. She led Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest (as its Executive Director) for its first five years, taking it from its infancy to an established and respected member of the professional chimpanzee sanctuary community. She then spent a year and a half leading the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance – which she co-founded in 2010 along with 6 other sanctuary directors. She encountered an opportunity she couldn’t pass up in 2014, and now happily leads the amazing team at Project Chimps.