Our Team

The Founder

Bio picLaurene K. Knowles

Elemotion Foundation’s founder, Laurene K. Knowles, was born in the US and enjoyed a successful career in Europe as a dancer, model, and classical ballet teacher.  She has two Bachelor of Arts degrees in French and History from Virginia Commonwealth University and speaks fluent English, French, Italian, and intermediate Japanese.

Laurene has had a love for animals that reaches back to her early childhood. Today, this love has transformed into a passion for animal welfare and wildlife conservation. In 2009, she decided to create Elemotion Foundation to improve the lives of wild and captive Asian elephants and the people connected to them.

Laurene’s research has led her to Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, China, Thailand, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka where she studies the unique elephant situation in each country. By having a broad international base, she is able to find cross-country solutions and unite people working on solving similar problems in different countries. She has a special interest in wild elephant conservation in Sri Lanka where Elemotion’s conservation projects are now based.

Laurene with babiesToday, Laurene lives in Manila, Philippines where she works full-time for Elemotion Foundation, in the company of her two cats, Fonzie and Bea. In her spare time, she enjoys rescuing and finding forever homes for the local stray cat population. Laurene continues to travel regularly throughout Asia for field research and foundation projects.  In 2016, her work will focus on wild elephant conservation in Sri Lanka, captive elephant research in Thailand and Nepal, and continued studies in elephant health and management.

In July 2016, Laurene completed the Royal Veterinary College’s International Training Course on ‘Asian Elephant Health, Reproduction, and Breeding Management’ at the Chiang Mai University and National Elephant Institute, Thailand.

If you would like to contact Laurene, please send an email to:  laurene@elemotion.org



Elephant Specialist and Country Representative (Sri Lanka)

Dr. Deepani Jayantha

Dee hikingSri Lankan born, Dr. Deepani Jayantha is a graduate of the University of Peradeniya in veterinary management of captive and wild elephants at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science. In 2013, she completed her dissertation on the Economics of Human-Elephant Conflict in Sri Lanka as part of a Masters Degree in Development Studies at University of Colombo.

In the last 12 years, Dr. Jayantha’s extensive research, projects, and publications include post-release monitoring studies of the rehabilitated and released wild juvenile elephants of the Elephant Transit Home, community conservation and education projects to mitigate Human-Elephant conflict near Udawalawe National Park, welfare of Sri Lankan captive elephants, and responsible tourism.

Dr. Jayantha also travels throughout Asian and African range countries addressing international symposia and forums on Sri Lankan elephant conservation and welfare. Dr. Jayantha works hand in hand with governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations to create guidelines and recommendations to improve the conditions of captive and wild Asian elephants. Collaborations include the Sri Lankan Department of Wildlife Conservation, University of Colombo, Born Free Foundation, Dogstar Foundation, IUCN Asian Elephant Specialist Group, and Elemotion Foundation where she is currently ‘Elephant Specialist and Country Representative’.

Dr. Jayantha has a passion for all wildlife and has extended her expertise to help leopards as well as feral dog and cat populations. In her spare time, she enjoys photography and reconnecting with nature on hikes in Sri Lanka’s wilderness.