Cristy was born and raised in Los Angeles. Her extensive exposure to many different birds while growing up introduced her to the wonders of avian cognition. Occasionally, she would even help nurse injured birds back to health, which added another facet to her bird education.
Her love for animals brought her to biodiversity hotspot San Diego, where she completed her studies in Ecology, Behavior and Evolution, with a minor in Cognitive Science. Having decided that working with animals was what was most fulfilling to her, she began volunteering at Free Flight while finishing her degree.
She now happily works as a veterinary assistant, very much enjoying expanding her knowledge of animal care, as well as forming valuable client relationships. She officially joined the Free Flight staff, spending most of her time educating visitors in companion bird husbandry. Cristy always strives to have visitors go home having learned something new.
Avian Care & Visitor Enrichment
Avian Care and Fundraising
Jorge was born and raised in Mazatlan, Mexico. Captivated by animals at a very young age, he decided to pursue a career working for their well-being. He later moved to the U.S. to continue his studies. In 2014, Jorge began volunteering at Free Flight to gain experience with exotic birds. Along the way he fell in love with the mission of the non- profit sanctuary and joined our flock. One of his goals is to spark the community's interest in Free Flight's work.
"Choose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life." Confucius
Education & Outreach, Development, Avian Care
Lauren began volunteering at Free Flight after being inspired by an outgoing parrot during her time as a photographer at the San Diego Zoo. Passionate about birds from an early age, she longed to gain more experience not only working with them, but sharing their incredible nature with others. She went on to work as a youth educator with the National Audubon Society before officially joining the Free Flight staff in 2014. Lauren enjoys incorporating her photographic and educational experience into daily life at Free Flight. She is especially fond of guiding young individuals to advocate for avian welfare and conservation within the sanctuary as well as the greater community.
Lauren is also an associate aviculturist at SeaWorld San Diego. She has one companion bird, Skittles, a green cheek conure she adopted from Free Flight in 2015. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies / Spanish & Latin American Studies from the University of San Diego and one day hopes to work with environment restoration, wildlife rehabilitation and community awareness efforts in Central and South America.
Avian Care & Visitor Enrichment
Susy was born and raised in Italy. Like many other supporters of animal care and conservation, as a child she dreamed of working with animals and becoming an advocate for their well-being. She spent much of her childhood living and working at her grandparents’ ranch, where she fed, cared for and tended to their many farm animals. Italian universities offer very limited opportunities to earn a degree in animal care, so she chose instead to pursue and obtain a degree in Economics and Finance, and graduated with a Master's degree in Management. After working as a Financial Controller for ten years for several multi-national companies, Susy moved to San Diego and decided to seek opportunities in the field that she has always loved: animal care, behavior and conservation. She volunteered with several facilities such as Lions Tigers and Bears, the San Diego River Park Foundation, and the San Diego Zoo, where she was hired first as an Educator in the Tours and Premium Product department and later as an Animal Keeper. She also recently earned a Master's degree in Zoology and Conservation through Miami University (Ohio) in collaboration with the Institute for Conservation Research (Escondido). Susy started volunteering at Free Flight in early 2017, and after a few months -- thanks to her dedication, enthusiasm and commitment to our mission -- she became part of our staff.
As a zookeeper and educator, as well as a compassionate and dedicated bird lover, Susy strives to inspire our visitors to share our passion for what we do, and to help them to develop an emotional connection to the wonderful world of exotic companion birds.