Jonathan Balcombe, Ph.D., author, scientist, and animal behavior expert, is a passionate advocate for animals and their living spaces. Born in England and raised in Canada and New Zealand, Balcombe showed an early interest in animals. His favorite place to visit at age three was the London Zoo, and, by six, he was gazing at insects in the backyard. He studied biology at York University and Carleton University in Canada before getting a Ph.D. in ethology, the study of animal behavior, from the University of Tennessee in 1991, where he studied vocal recognition and mother pup reunion behavior in the Mexican free-tailed bat. He has published more than 45 journal articles and book chapters ranging from turtle nesting behavior to the ethics of animal dissection. His best-selling book Pleasurable Kingdom is the first in-depth examination of animals’ capacity to enjoy life. His subsequent books Second Nature and The Exultant Ark continue to present animals in a new light and presage a revolution in the human–animal relationship. A popular speaker, Balcombe has given invited presentations on six continents (the penguins are still waiting for him to visit Antarctica). He is currently the Department Chair for Animal Studies with Humane Society University, in Washington, D.C., where he teaches courses in animal behavior, and animal sentience. In his spare time he enjoys biking, baking, birding, Bach, and trying to understand his two cats.
Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, campaigns to raise awareness about the negative consequences of industrialized factory farming. He has conducted hundreds of visits to farms, stockyards, and slaughterhouses to document conditions. His photos and videos exposing factory farming cruelty have been aired nationally and internationally, educating millions. His book, Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food, a national best-seller, is a thought-provoking investigation of the ethical questions surrounding beef, poultry, pork, milk and egg production. It describes what each of us can do to promote compassion and help stop the systematic mistreatment of the billions of farm animals who are exploited for food in the U.S. every year.
Susie Coston, Farm Sanctuary’s national shelter director, joined us in March 2000, following six years working for a veterinarian and at a sanctuary in West Virginia. Before that, she earned a master’s degree in special education and worked with kids with disabilities. As a farm animal caregiver for more than a decade, Coston has been a mentor to many of her peers (some of whom have started their own sanctuaries throughout the U.S.) and is known for bringing animals’ stories of love, loss, and life to the public. She ensures that the hundreds of farm animals sheltered at Farm Sanctuary each year receive the best possible care at every stage of their lives.
Rory Freedman penned the #1 NY Times bestseller, Skinny Bitch. With five books on the shelves, three million copies in print, translations in twenty-seven languages, nearly three years on the NY Times bestseller list, three fitness DVDs, and past appearances on Entertainment Tonight, The Today Show, Ellen, Tyra, The O’Reilly Factor, Fox, CNN, MTV, and E!, she set out to bring veganism to the masses. A proud vegan and animal rights activist, Rory was named VegNews magazine’s first ever “Person of the Year.”
Please check back for additional speakers.