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 and Visitor Liaison
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 and Aquatic Care, Sanctuary Maintenance
Nathalie came to Free Flight after visiting many different bird stores in search of advice for giving her budgies exactly what they needed. At some point she had met a special female eclectus parrot that inspired her toadopt one from Free Flight. However, a young male eclectus parrot saw her first, stepped up to her hand, looked long and deep into her eye with his own big round thoughtful one, laid his beak against her nose and went to sleep. Nathalie has been at Free Flight ever since, first as a volunteer and then a very happy member of the staff. She is delighted when she learns anything new about birds or sees that look of wonder on a visitor's face.
That thoughtful eclectus, now named Fred, visits Free Flight with Nathalie when she works, unless he feels that the budgies at home need supervision.
Oh, and that female eclectus parrot? A young girl named Sapphire now completes Nathalie's flock.