About

About Longneck Manor

SINCE 2021

Welcome to Longneck Manor!

If you like giraffes, white rhinos, and Labrador retrievers you will have a great time visiting us in Fredericksburg, Texas (about 75 miles from the Austin or San Antonio airports).

Many of you reading this know me and maybe a little something about this post-zoo retirement idea I have been talking about for some time. Well now it’s finally happening and we are ready to share some updates, photos, and stories.

The goal is to provide a fun personal experience while helping to save animals in the wild. We do this by combining the best elements of a good zoo with that of a good conservation organization. So you get to meet some real live conservation ambassadors (both four and two-legged species) as well as contribute to a non-profit (tax-deductible) conservation fund that works directly with proven conservation heroes.

The ten conservation organizations that we partner with all have current or past personal relationships working with our team. We don’t just raise money for friends but for respected and admired colleagues who have dedicated their lives to saving animals and people. We will share their stories of hope and commitment to inspire you to help make a difference.

So peruse this website and let us know what you think. Conservation is most effective when everyone participates. Thanks and Have Fun,

Welcome to Longneck Manor!

From the blog

Drifter – First Ambassador

Meet my pal Drifter, a four-year-old yellow Labrador retriever.   His pedigree name is Classic Hill Country Drifter but we call him the “Drift Man”...

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My Africa – “Born Free”

Fact:  I have Visited Africa Over 50 Times, but my First Trip Changed my Life    Africa…. This wild and mysterious continent with its amazing creatures...

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Why I like Rhinos

Rhino Fact:  There are five living species of rhinos (two African and three Asian), their combined populations in the wild being about 30,000 animals.  If rhinos...

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Climbing Kili

by Bill Konstant Our wake-up call came at 11:00 pm on October 20th. That’s right, late that night, not the next morning. Rick and I...

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We have BIG NEWS!

???????? We have BIG NEWS! Coming this summer, a new Welcome Center and four cottages – each with a stunning view of our giraffes and...

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The team

HEATHER CROCKER

Deputy Director

MONICA JINRIGHT

Director of Guest Services

KELLY RUSSO

Marketing & Communications

LEAH HERNANDEZ

Manager of Animal Enrichment and Training

REED GARDNER

Animal Care Specialist

SAMANTHA WELLS

Director of Animal Care

NOEL HERNANDEZ

Animal Care Specialist

SHELBY ESPARZA

Animal Care Specialist

CHLOE CROCKER

Animal Care Specialist

VALKYRIE MYKLEBUST

Animal Care Specialist

The board

CULLEN GEISELMAN, PHD

Director, Cullen Trust for Health Care

RENEE BUMPUS

Chief Animal Conservation Officer , Palm Beach Zoo and Conservation Society

RICK BIDDLE

Managing Partner of Relevant Strategies & Solutions (RS&S)

JOSH DAVIDSON

Partner, Baker Botts

RODRICK (RICK) BARONGI

Owner, Longneck Manor

BRADLEY TREVOR GREIVE

Yáa Gí Yéil / Raven By The Pond

JO WILLIAMS

VP Finance, Capital Group Companies

The Animals

The goal of Longneck Manor is to provide a fun personal experience while helping to save animals in the wild. We do this by combining the best elements of a good zoo with that of a good conservation organization. So you get to meet some real live conservation ambassadors (both four and two legged species) as well as contribute to a non-profit (tax deductible) conservation fund that works directly with proven conservation heroes.

Longneck Manor is the home to a “Crash” of three rhinos (Fred, Barney and Justin) as well as a “Tower” of three giraffes (Kafele, Betty and Tana). Our animal ambassadors help guests connect with animals in the wild and help conservation efforts with our partner organizations.

Purchase an enrichment gift for our animals! Visit our Amazon Wishlist here.

Animal Fact Sheet

Our animal fact sheet will give you the facts and figures about our animal ambassadors. Please consider taking a tour or enjoying a stay to expand your experence.

Check out photos of our animals below

The Barn

Giraffe Barn – aka Giraffe Mansion

On August 12, 2020 we broke ground on the first building for Longneck Manor. This 10,000 square foot, 30 foot high, giraffe barn is not only a top priority but also a state of the art structure. It has everything giraffes require and more. At a cost of over one million dollars it has lots of amenities for the animals, keepers and guests.

Why build such a big and expensive giraffe Barn?

Some may think all you need is a shelter, a high fence and lots of trees to manage giraffes in a semi-captive environment. Big mistake! Giraffes born in a zoo require much more attention and behavioral enrichment than ones that are wild born. Putting them inside a large barn at night, and during bad weather, ensures their safety and allows the keepers and giraffe to develop a closer bond and trust.

For a zoo giraffe the barn is their nighttime comfort zone and a place where they get extra attention and food treats. It is also a safe haven from bad weather and lightening. Would you want to be 16 feet tall and standing in an open field during a violent thunderstorm? Neither would a giraffe.

Giraffe Amenities

When designing a giraffe barn you must take into account several important factors. First (and most obvious) are the doors. They need to be 18 feet high and easy for keepers to open and close. The floors of their stalls need to be non-skid and not too hard. Our barn has fine gravel floors and also rubberized coated concrete floors for quarantine and medical treatments. A slippery floor can be a very dangerous proposition for such a long-legged animal, especially a newborn trying to stand for the first time. Other important components are: elevated water drinkers and feeders, natural lighting, restraint chute (for hoof trims, blood draws and loading and unloading animals) and heat in the winter and good ventilation in the summer. Lastly, the barn needs to be big enough to accommodate future offspring and a whole herd (or tower) of giraffe.

Guest Amenities

To allow guests to safely interact and feed our giraffe we have included an eight foot wide elevated catwalk along the back of the giraffe stalls. This allows both guest and keepers to interact with the animals on their level and away from those large and potentially dangerous flying hooves. To access the catwalk there is an outside stairway.

There are keeper offices, bathrooms and food storage rooms on the first floor at one end of the barn. Above this workspace is a 1,200 square foot overnight suite for guests that choose to “sleep” with our giraffe. It will be a three-room, air- conditioned, Wi-Fi equipped, giraffe suite that has floor to ceiling glass panels overlooking the large family giraffe stall. It will be African themed and have a kitchen, living room and master bedroom.

We are very proud of our giraffe mansion and believe it raises the bar for all future giraffe barns. Don’t just take our word…. you be the judge and come stay with us.

Longneck Manor is making a difference in the wild

The goal of Longneck Manor is to provide a fun personal experience while helping to save animals in the wild. We do this by combining the best elements of a good zoo with that of a good conservation organization. So you get to meet some real live conservation ambassadors (both four and two legged species) as well as contribute to a non-profit (tax deductible) conservation fund that works directly with proven conservation heroes.

Longneck Manor is the home to a “Crash” of three rhinos (Fred, Barney and Justin) as well as a “Tower” of four giraffes (Kafele, Betty, Tana and Kili).
Our animal ambassadors help guests connect with animals in the wild and help conservation efforts with our partner organizations.

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HEATHER CROCKER

Deputy Director
Heather comes to us with over 25 years of customer service experience and a passion for creating amazing guest experiences. As a Flight Attendant with Delta Airlines for over 18 years her training and commitment to service were first developed and refined. Owning and operating a luxury B&B property management company since 2017 she recognizes the impact a positive experience has on guests and strives to meet and exceed the expectations of everyone who visits Longneck Manor. Whether joining us as an overnight guest in our luxury Giraffe Suite or on a Conservation Ambassador tour, Heather’s mission is to ensure a phenomenal experience, inspiring everyone with a passion and appreciation for our animals and the conservation goals of Longneck Manor.

MONICA JINRIGHT

Director of Guest Services
Monica Jinright is a lifelong Texan with a deep love for her family and animals. She has been in the client/investor service industry for over 15 years, 6 years as an event coordinator and 5 years in the B&B industry. She has been on several nonprofit boards and looks forward to using her knowledge and experience to help provide all guests with a memorable visit.

KELLY RUSSO

Marketing & Communications
Kelly is a graduate of Texas A&M University and has a degree in Wildlife Fisheries Science with an emphasis on ecology. She has over 20 years of marketing and communications experience working with esteemed wildlife conservation organizations such as the Houston Zoo, International Rhino Foundation, Houston Museum of Natural Science, and the IUCN Tapir Specialist Group.

LEAH HERNANDEZ

Manager of Animal Enrichment and Training
Leah was born and raised in Lubbock Texas. Her love of animals started at an early age, looking up to Steve Irwin and Jeff Corwin, but developed into a deeper passion and desire to give back in college. She graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in Biology, specializing in ecology and environmental studies; she assisted in some biology labs throughout, working with both plants and animals. Once graduated, she began as a mammal caretaker for the Austin Aquarium, eventually managing the husbandry for two facilities, gaining and working with multiple exotic species including mammals, avians, reptiles, and marine life. Leah developed a passion for understanding animal behaviors and training them for cooperative care. She hopes to further help conservation efforts and to educate the public so these amazing creatures can be admired for generations to come. In her free time, Leah likes to hike, paddleboard, and knit.

REED GARDNER

Animal Care Specialist
Reed was born and raised near Houston. His passion for wildlife developed at an early age, exploring the forests and bayous around his home. After attending Texas State University, Reed accepted a position managing over 1,500 animals at a private zoological facility near San Antonio, Texas. During his five-year tenure he refined his animal husbandry and people management skills. He oversaw a successful breeding program for threatened and endangered species of African hoofed stock, giraffe, primates and avian species. He is now at a stage in his career where he wants to make a difference in the conservation of the species in the wild. Reed resides in the Texas Hill Country with his yellow lab JW.

SAMANTHA WELLS

Animal Care Specialist
Samantha grew up in Cheney, Kansas, with a love for the outdoors and wishing her future turned into a real-life version of The Wild Thornberrys. She later moved to Texas, where she would graduate from Texas State University with a degree in Biology and a minor in Anthropology. Once graduated, Samantha accepted a tour guide position at a wildlife park in Arizona, providing educational tours to the public. She worked there for six years, working her way up to assistant manager of the hoofstock department, where she helped manage the husbandry for 100 individual animals. Some of her favorites included Eland, nilgai, watusi, and of course the three male giraffes. Samantha is grateful to be a part of the Longneck Manor team to help further their wildlife conservation goals, while also providing the best animal welfare she can. She enjoys traveling and watching movies with her husband and their two cats, Killarney and Gimli.

NOEL HERNANDEZ

Animal Care Specialist
Noel was born and raised in Liberty Hill, Texas. When he was a kid, he would spend countless hours in the woods hunting with his father. This began his passion for wildlife, which led to his decision to peruse a career in the field. Noel graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in Natural Resource Management, with an emphasis in wildlife biology. As a ranch hand and later ranch manager of exotic game ranches around the state, he would care for exotic hoof stock such as Kudu, Sable, and Axis.

SHELBY ESPARZA

Animal Care Specialist
Shelby is a born and raised Texan. She has always been drawn to the outdoors and had a passion for wildlife and conservation. She graduated from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley with a bachelors degree in Biology with a focus in mammalogy and animal behavior. Shelby started her career in conservation with behavioral observation research working with great apes, some of this research was presented at the International Primotological Society in Africa in 2018. As well as avian elcology research studying parrot nestling behavior and visiting Ecuador for field research. After moving to the beautiful Texas Hillcountry, Shelby was the sanctuary manager for a nonprofit wildlife rehab facility overseeing dozens of species including hoofstock, primates, parrots, and reptiles totalling over 800 residents. Following her heart, Shelby knew it was time to get back to her roots and her love of conservation and spreading the message of species in need and what we can do to help them for generations to come. The animals of Longneck Manor are incredible ambassadors for their wild counterparts. She is honored to be able to work with them everyday while sharing their stories, including how they need our help now more than ever.

CHLOE CROCKER

Animal Care Specialist
Chloe was raised here in Fredericksburg, TX and has a deep love for the Texas Hill Country. She graduated from Tarleton State University, with a degree in Wildlife Sustainability and Ecosystem Sciences with a concentration in Zoo Management and Biology. Chloe plans to travel to Africa to continue her work with exotic wildlife at the Golola Rhino Orphanage and Phinda Game Ranch. Exotics and large carnivores have long been a passion of hers and she has been able to travel to places as far as Nepal to study wildlife and gain experience in the field. For the past 3 years she has been a seasonal worker here at Longneck Manor, but she’s now full time and plans to continue her work in the conservation world with our animal ambassadors.

VALKYRIE MYKLEBUST

Animal Care Specialist
Valkyrie was raised all over Texas but calls the Texas Hill Country home. She just graduated from Tarleton State University, completing a degree in Wildlife Sustainability and Ecosystem Sciences with a concentration in Pre-Vet, and a minor in Biology. She plans to apply for vet school in hopes of enrolling next August. Valkyrie plans to travel to Costa Rica to continue her work with wildlife through Worldwide Vets next summer. Animals and conservation have always been a passion of hers. She feels so grateful to be a part of such a wonderful team and facility. For the next year, she hopes to grow with Longneck Manor, and further enhance her skills needed for the future with our animal ambassadors.

CULLEN K.

GEISELMAN, PHD
Cullen K. Geiselman, PhD is a conservationist, philanthropist, and bat researcher. She lives and works in Houston where she chairs the board and is the acting director of the Cullen Trust for Health Care, a support organization funding healthcare initiatives in the greater Houston area. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Houston Zoo, the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, the Houston Parks Board, the Houston Advanced Research Center, the Turtle Conservancy, and the Lone Star Coastal Alliance. She is the immediate past chair of the Board of Directors of Bat Conservation International. After working for Bat Conservation International and completing her dissertation on nectar-feeding bats in French Guiana, Ms. Geiselman continues her work with bats by collaborating with students in Africa and Latin America, curating the online Bat Eco-Interactions database (www.batbase.org), and presenting lectures about bats to technical audiences and the general public. She is dedicated to conserving species and the habitats they need to thrive and to preserving and expanding green space for the benefit of people and nature.

RENEE BUMPUS

Sr. Director of Wildlife Conservation Programs
Renee Bumpus has had over 20 years of experience in wildlife conservation. She began her wildlife conservation career in British Columbia, Canada, working at an endangered species conservation center where she enhanced recovery and reintroduction efforts for endangered species locally and globally. In the first 10 years of her career she witnessed the Vancouver Island Marmot rebound from the brink of extinction through captive breeding and reintroduction. As an experienced animal care specialist and conservation professional, she’s worked in research and conservation efforts for species like Lemurs, African painted dogs and Lions in Africa, sharks and tapirs in Central and South America and many species in North America. In 2010, she joined the Houston Zoo’s Wildlife Conservation Program. As the Sr. Director of Wildlife Conservation Programs for the Houston Zoo she works closely with over 30 global wildlife conservation partners to protect giraffe, elephants, gorillas, rhinos and many other species from extinction. Renee currently serves on the boards of Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders and the Center for Conservation Peacebuilding. She acts in advisory capacities for the Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association and AZA’s Whooping Crane SAFE conservation program.

RICK BIDDLE

Managing Partner of Relevant Strategies & Solutions (RS&S)
Rick Biddle is Managing Partner of Relevant Strategies & Solutions (RS&S) (www.rssconsultantsllc.com ). He founded RS&S in October 2019 to usher in the next generation of planning services rooted in bold thinking and inspired leadership. Since 1992, Rick has developed and provided oversight for planning projects for more than 100 AZA (Association of Zoos & Aquariums) accredited institutions with operating budgets ranging from less than $1 million to well over $100 million. Rick and his team bring mission-driven passion, a keen business sense and a nuanced understanding of the challenges facing the nonprofit world as they deliver consulting services in business planning/finance, strategic planning, operations, and leadership. He is recognized as a leading management and planning resource in public/private partnerships and governance, strategic and business planning, and executive search. From 1992 to 2019, Rick was Managing Director of Strategic Management & Business Consulting for Schultz & Williams. Previous to these positions he served as the Chief Operating Officer for the Philadelphia Zoo for 11 years. He is a graduate of Villanova University. Rick loves to travel the world with his wife Ann and is known to occasionally enjoy a glass of wine with her. Fine chocolates and Dairy Queen sundaes are also personal favorites. He loves to play golf (Ann says a golf snob!!) with his clients and two sons, Thomas and Christopher. Rick has been known to have a dry sense of humor and a strong passion for Villanova basketball.

JOSH DAVIDSON

Board Member
In Houston, where he has practiced corporate law since 1985. Josh has been a member of the board of directors of the Houston Zoo since 2016 and has served on the Houston Zoo’s Conservation Committee since 2007 and Governance Committee since 2020. Josh is also on the board of directors of the Center for Conservation Peacebuilding, a global leader in conservation conflict transformation. Josh also serves on the Board of Trustees and Finance Committee of the Houston Grand Opera. Josh and his wife Mindy have enjoyed numerous conservation-minded trips, including to Africa (3 trips), the Galapagos Islands, Churchill in Manitoba (polar bears), Yellowstone and Panama, many of these with the Houston Zoo.

RODRICK (RICK) BARONGI

Owner, Longneck Manor
Rick grew up on Long Island, New York and attended Cornell University for his B.S. and Rutgers University for his M.S. in Zoology. He retired from the Houston Zoo in June 2015, after 15 years as Zoo Director. He presently consults on zoological projects while serving on several wildlife conservation boards. He has been both a keynote speaker and author on topics ranging from animal management to conservation strategies for the future. Rick has been working in the wildlife management and conservation field for over 45 years. His level of experience ranges from zookeeper to senior executive positions at the Walt Disney Company and the San Diego and Houston Zoos. He has served on the boards of AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) and WAZA (World Association of Zoos and Aquariums). He was the top animal executive for the creative development, planning and construction of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. He led the efforts to create the Disney Conservation Fund, which since its inception in 1995 has generated more than $75 million for field conservation projects around the world. While Director of the Houston Zoo he led the efforts to privatize the zoo in 2002. Rick actively serves on several wildlife conservation boards, including the International Rhino Foundation, GRACE (Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center), Margot Marsh Foundation and Okapi Conservation Project. He is an avid wildlife trekker and photographer and has traveled extensively to Africa (over 50 trips) and South America (over 25 trips). He has visited over 60 countries and plans to keep adding to that list for as long as he can. Rick divides his time between Fredericksburg, Texas and Sarasota, Florida where his life partner, Diane Ledder, resides. They share two wonderful yellow labs (children) named Cooper and Drifter.

BRADLEY TREVOR GREIVE

Yáa Gí Yéil / Raven By The Pond

Bradley Trevor Greive Bradley Trevor Greive (BTG) was born on the untamed island of Tasmania and graduated from The Royal Military College (the equivalent of USMA West Point) before serving in the Australian army as a paratrooper commander.

Following his military service, BTG pursued a creative career, first as a newspaper cartoonist with the Sydney Morning Herald, and then as humorist and nature writer. Today he is the award-winning author of numerous New York Times bestsellers, with more than 30,000,000 copies sold across 115 countries.

During a sabbatical year, BTG completed three terms as the Executive Creative Consultant in Residence at Walt Disney Imagineering’s elite Blue Sky think tank, after which he relocated to Los Angeles to pursue an interest in television and film, and founded his American production company, Tasmanian Grizzly LLC.

Following his role as a voice artist for PIXAR’s animated blockbuster, Finding Nemo, and ‘Twas the Night before Christmas, he became the resident Late Night TV wildlife expert on both Chelsea Lately (E!) and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (CBS). Since then, BTG has produced and hosted numerous wildlife series and documentaries for Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, NBC/Peacock, and Netflix, including Fear Island: Fortress of the Bears, Nature’s Strangest Mysteries: Solved, Queer Planet, Little Giants, and the animated semi-autobiographical wildlife comedy, Adventure Beast. In addition, BTG’s international bestselling nonfiction book, Penguin Bloom – The Odd Little Bird Who Saved a Family, was made into a major motion picture, starring Naomi Watts, Jacki Weaver, and Andrew Lincoln.

BTG has also produced for the stage, including sold out shows for legendary Monty Python alum, John Cleese (An Intimate Evening with John Cleese), and a new production of The Carnival of the Animals, by Camille Saint-Saëns, with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, at Australia’s iconic Sydney Opera House.

Among his more curious achievements, BTG is a Cosmonaut Graduate of the Russian Space Program (2004, Star City, Moscow), and the French Polynesian Rock-Lifting Champion (2006, Ha’a’piti, Moorea). He was also Chairman of the National Youth Poetry Prize for six years. During several years of field research, BTG worked alongside Tlingit elders to provide evidence of a new gigantic Alaskan late-Pleistocene hybrid brown bear sub-species, in the Alexander Archipelago.

He has endured over twenty surgeries and eight treatments for rabies treatments for rabies, so far. His left nipple was partially torn off by an enraged reindeer.

BTG grew up a devotee of Gerald Durrell and is an internationally respected champion for wildlife and wild places. For the past 30 years he has led or funded at least one wildlife conservation program on every continent. In addition to being a Board Member of the Longneck Manor Conservation Foundation, BTG is the Governor of the Taronga Conservation Society of Australia, Founding Patron of Painted Dog Conservation Inc (Zimbabwe), Honorary International Conservation Program Ambassador for Fort Worth Zoo (USA), Life Benefactor of Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (UK), a Member of the New Zoo Council (USA), and an Advisory Board Member of the Wildlife Learning Center (USA).

In appreciation for his service to Alaskan Native culture, BTG and his family were formally adopted by the Deisheetaan clan of the Tlingit People of Southeast Alaska. BTG is also the recipient of the Order of Australia (2014) for his service to literature and wildlife conservation (the equivalent of a British Knighthood, and the US Presidential Medal of Freedom). A dual Australian-American Citizen, BTG lives in California with his wife, Amy (Jaa.auwdo.laat), and their two inexplicably gorgeous children, Genevieve (Kaasaandoo.oo), and Barrett (Kaa jaax daa keen.aa).

JO WILLIAMS

VP Finance, Capital Group Companies

Jo lives in Boerne and has worked at Capital Group Companies for over 17 years. Jo is currently based at the San Antonio office but has worked out of the London, Geneva and Irvine, CA offices over her CG career. She has a passion for wildlife conservation and nonprofit causes along with her husband Ian, and serves on the Capital Cares Foundation at Capital Group. Jo manages a team of over 50 finance professional globally and is also a site operating committee leader.

Her previous roles in business finance and accounting have included Director and Controller roles at Akamai Technology, Perot Systems and Seabourne Logistics.