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Ranch director Stacy Gunderson grew up in Simi Valley, California and attended the Moorpark Exotic Animal Program right out of High School, graduating in 1989. She met her future husband, Tom Gunderson, while in college. After graduating, Stacy went to work for a movie animal company called Birds and Animals Unlimited, and Tom went to the San Diego Wild Animal Park as an elephant keeper. Just a few years later, Tom joined Stacy at Birds and Animals and the pair had the amazing opportunity to travel the world together making movies with the animals they loved. Stacy and Tom married in 2001 and had 2 beautiful children and Stacy decided to take on the role of stay at home mom while Tom remained in the movie industry. In 2008, the pair got word that a friend who was running an animal sanctuary could no longer keep it up. Stacy and Tom went to look at some animal enclosures and came home with Animal Tracks! Balancing Tom’s entertainment industry career (which frequently took him to the other side of the globe), two kids, and a fledgeling nonprofit was certainly a labor of love, but Stacy is thrilled to have shared the journey with her wonderful family. Animal Tracks is woven into the fabric of their lives, and Stacy hopes it will continue to be a huge part of the Gunderson tradition for generations to come.
Erin has been with Animal Tracks since 2005. She started as a volunteer, sweeping the barn and cleaning cages. In a few short months, Erin had developed incredible bonds with the animals and has been with some of them for their entire lives. She favors the wolf hybrids and porcupines. From time to time you can see her being chased by Quilamina, who is after the banana chips in Erin's pocket. She says, "The thing I would like people to take away from their visit at Animal Tracks is that these animals are all loved and well taken care of. Animals deserve a place in this world too, and that is what the Animal Tracks mission is all about."
Christina joined the Animal Tracks team in 2014. Her skills in public relations combined with a heart for rescuing made her a prime candidate for our Board of Directors. She has a history of animal rescue experience and currently owns and operates Cristina’s Critters, a small reptile rescue based in Ventura County, CA. She is a busy mom of three who is passionate about dancing, guns, and of course animals. She says, “Animal Tracks is my escape from reality. It’s refreshing and positive. Sure it’s work. It’s hard work. But when Monday comes around I'm ready to tackle it.”
Alyson has loved animals from the time she could walk & talk. She grew up in Georgia and moved to California 25 years ago, working in the corporate world up until 2007, when she decided to make the move to do what her true passion has always been, volunteering and working in the animal rescue field. She started volunteering for a local wild & exotic animal rescue, working with monkeys, kinkajous, opossums, coyotes, wolf hybrids and wolves, and giving tours, and ended up working in their office until 2015, and then made the move to Animal Tracks, Inc.
In her own words, "I always knew in my heart that I wanted to volunteer and work with exotic animals. When a wild animal chooses to have a bond with you, it comes from a much deeper, more primal place, and when that feeling is reciprocated, there is nothing to compare it to, it is so, so special! I am so excited to be a part of the Animal Tracks family, I am finally 'home'!"
Kaleah is a junior at Buena High School. When she is not spending her free time volunteering at Animal Tracks, she is training for her 100m hurdle events or swinging a bat to stay ready for the softball season. She plans to study abroad and obtain a degree in criminal justice. She says, “If more people would unplug, they would discover there’s a whole world out there they've never seen before. Animal Tracks is that world for me.”
Caden has an incredible love for reptiles and started his own breeding program at the age of 13. He started volunteering at Animal Tracks in 2015 and has become a great asset. When he isn't showing off his scorpions at Animal Tracks, you can find him snowboarding, water skiing, or studying to finish his senior year at Saugus High School.
Shawn first came to visit Animal Tracks in 2015 and he immediately offered his help and resources to aid in the improvements and construction at the ranch. He has spent his weekends assisting in tours and building enclosures ever since. In 2015 he was added to the board as head of construction and he continues to help make Animal Tracks the best it can be.
Mark has been with the Animal Tracks family since September 2015. In a very short period of time, he became a primate alpha in training. Animal tracks is Mark's second home, and he relies on the animals more than they rely on him. He says, "Working with exotic animals is a dream I never thought possible, but now it's a dream come true. Animal Tracks has opened so many doors for me and I hope it can for others as well."
Grace has been working with exotic animals since 2010, doing everything from cleaning and compound maintenance to educational outreach and handling large predators such as lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!) for various productions. However, her main talent lay in her ability to bond and work with primates, and it was that speciality that caught Stacy's eye. After visiting Animal Tracks in 2014, she joined the team and hasn't looked back. She says, "Animal Tracks immediately felt like home, and the team felt like family. The animals are loved and cared for beyond measure and it's truly a gem of a rescue sanctuary."
Jess came to Animal Tracks for a tour in 2015 and immediately offered to volunteer her time in any way she could. Within a week, she was our new web supervisor! She's been a lifelong animal lover and is so thrilled to be able to give back to the furry, scaly, and feathered friends who mean so much to her.
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