Emberá friend & family member, Whale Watching Guide, Spiritual Teacher, Whale Whisperer, Biologist, Dolphin Energy Healer, Entrepreneur, Author, Public Speaker, Adventurous, Inspirational
Anne & Otniel outside of their first home together.
Dolphin School center piece
Whale Watching Panama is born
One of the aspects of Dolphin School was learning how to channel the documented healing energy of the dolphins to others without the physical presence of the dolphins. This type of energetic healing is much like Reiki or the biblical "laying on of hands". While Anne was attending Dolphin School she enjoyed the teaching of the energy healing but had no interest in becoming a practitioner of this method, until during one weekend, the person she was practicing with reported feeling profound and very real physical sensations without her actually touching him. She became intrigued and started practicing with friends who reported improvement in physical health issues after receiving the Dolphin Healing Energy from her. Anne also began seeing visions and "hearing" messages for her clients while she was sending the energy and when she shared those visions and messages with them, they were often moved to tears with the accuracy and impactful meaning they held for them. She is now a certified Dolphin Energy Healing practitioner and feels it is a great honor to be able to share the incredible healing energy of the dolphins with others.
Dolphin Energy Healing
Anne arriving in the village with a tour group.
A new life
While working on the film in Panama, Anne noticed one attractive Emberá man in particular. Because she had very rudimentary Spanish language skills and lived in a different country and they came from completely different cultures, she did not try to interact with him in any way. At a cast and crew party at the hotel pool, this handsome, young Emberá man, Otniel Barrigón, approached Anne to have a conversation. They managed to have a very basic conversation and a connection was felt by both. The next day at work on the film set, Otniel asked Anne out on a date (through an interpreter!) Their first few dates were with a Spanish-English dictionary between them at all times. Verbal communication was challenging, but they both felt a strong bond and love growing between them. At one point, while Otniel had returned to his village for a few days, Anne actually felt their souls joining as one. After Anne's 3 month work contract was completed on the film she arranged to stay an extra month to be with Otniel. In April, 2004 she reluctantly flew back to California as she had work lined up that she was obligated to. Anne and Otniel kept in contact by phone when they could, but not easy since there is no phone service in his village and she returned to Panama to visit him every 2 months or so. During one of those visits Otniel proposed marriage to Anne and she did not hesitate in saying. "Yes!". By November of that same year she had packed up her belongings and moved to Panama to begin her new life with Otniel.
A leap of faith
Traveling to Panama had never been on Anne's radar. She, like many people, only knew of the Panama canal and nothing else, but she is always ready for an adventure so she went prepared to embrace all that she encountered in this new country. The movie she was hired on was called The End of the Spear, and told the true story of 5 American missionaries who were killed in 1956 by the Waodani tribe. The amazing part of the story is that widows and children of the slain missionaries went to go live with the Waodani people to teach them love and forgiveness are stronger than fear! The movie was shot in Panama for logistical reasons and the production company hired actors from the local Emberá tribe. On the movie set Anne got to meet and hang out with the Emberá and spend some time in their villages. She was touched with how warm and open the Emberá people are. On her visit overnight visit to one of the villages, she woke up with a strong inner knowing that the Emberá
would be in her life forever. Although she had no idea what that look like yet.
After recovering from the trauma of the incident with her tiger, Anne made some big changes in her life. She closed Animal Advocates and shifted her company to focus entirely on providing animals for movies and TV. Since the film industry most often requested domestic animals such as dogs, cats, and farm animals she reluctantly found good homes for most of her wild animals. Prior to that day, Anne had never paid any attention to faith or spiritual beliefs. When she was dealing with the emotional aftermath of the tiger attack, she started questioning herself and looking within for answers. She attended some self-help seminars, one of them helped her to realize how frightened of people and the world she really was, but to show the world she was not afraid, what did she choose as a career? Training lions and tigers! Anne began to read every new age and spiritual book she could find. One of the most pivotal for her was Neale Donald Walsch's Conversations with God. Anne turned the worst day of her life into the most powerful catalyst for finding herself and learning to love and enjoy herself and have complete confidence in herself. She only wishes she did not need such a traumatic slap in the face to wake her up to her true potential.
Since her spiritual awakening her life has been full steam ahead. Her film animal training business, now called, Anne's Animal Actors, was a success. She worked on film and TV projects such as Northern Exposure, Homeward Bound, Legends of the Fall, Air Buddies, the new Benji, Practical Magic and many more. After 18 years of running her own company in the Seattle area, she became tired of the 24/7 demands of owning and operating an animal company. The animals needed care every day of the year, there are no days off nor holidays. So she sold her business and moved to the Los Angeles area to become a freelance animal trainer.
In California Anne finally created a balanced life for herself. She worked when there was a film job, and on her days off, she attended yoga classes, went hiking, read books and was truly happy. One day she realized that she was completely content, and even though she had never found a romantic life partner, she realized that she did not need a man in her life to be happy and if she never found 'the one' she was completely satisfied with her life just as it was. Soon after, she received a call to work on a movie that was being filmed in Panama. She almost turned it down, as she had been working back- to-back on several projects and wanted a break, but after reading the powerful script, she knew she had to take the job.
Spiritual wake up call
While she was running her Animal Advocates outreach programs, she realized there was no one providing animals for the local film industry. So she began advertising her availability as a film animal trainer. She soon became the 'go to' person in the Pacific Northwest region when any film, TV show or commercial or still photo shoot needed an animal to perform. At that time she was running both her outreach programs and doing the film work at the same time. Until one fateful day. During a commercial shoot on her property her tiger attacked and nearly killed one of her volunteers. It was the worst day of her life. Fortunately, her volunteer survived, but it was a big wake up call for Anne.
Movies and TV
Anne enjoyed her time working at the zoo, but after 3 years she became bored with the routine and wanted more hands-on interaction with the animals. She left the zoo to work for a company in California that taught people how to train wild animals. She learned a lot about training and working with animals such as lions, tigers, chimpanzees, monkeys, raccoons, camels, zebras, ostriches and more. She had a lot of fun at this place, but after 8 months of work and no paycheck she left that job to return to the Seattle area to open her own company, Animal Advocates, to raise and train wild animals to take out to schools for educational outreach programs. She started with a raccoon she brought with her as "severance pay" from her previous job and soon acquired other animals such as a kinkajou, red fox, wolf pup and a young tiger cub. Anne ran her company for 5 years successfully and presented her message about respecting wildlife to around 30,000 people each year.
In high school she took a marine biology course and was hooked! This class opened her eyes wide to the possibility of a career working with the animals she loved so much. In university she studied biology and animal behavior. During her summers off from college she spent volunteering at the local zoo. Upon graduation she got a job working at Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo. She worked her way up to become the first woman zookeeper in the Carnivore unit.
High school and University
Anne was born in California, but moved to Oregon at a very early age. She is the oldest of three children and bonded early with the family dog. In fact, her first word was "doggie". As a child she never felt like she fit in with the other kids at school and spent most of her time walking in the woods by herself exploring the natural world. At the age of 10 her family moved to Olympia, Washington to a home on the shores of Puget Sound. She never tired of exploring the beach and observing everything from barnacles to the seals and orca whales who swam by sometimes. Her father had a boat so every summer they spent in the San Juan islands where she got to spend more time with her beloved orcas. She would lay on the docks staring for hours into the water watching the fish.
Anne is an easy going woman who has a strong connection and passion for the natural world. She is deeply spiritual but also well grounded to the everyday world, a rare combination.
Anne has a playful enthusiasm which is infectious to all those around her. She is spontaneous and ready for her next great adventure. She is a humble woman, yet not afraid to take on a challenge.
Anne is dedicated to sharing with others her love for the whales, dolphins, the natural world as well as the Emberá tribe and other indigenous peoples.
Anne can define her life's purpose with one word; RESPECT. Respect for animals, nature and all humans.
Anne's latest venture is creating a line of all natural hemp-clothing with whale and dolphin designs. The designs are made in the traditional style of multi-layered tapestries called molas. Molas are made by the ladies of the Kuna tribe who are native to the San Blas Islands on the Caribbean side of Panama. Each item of clothing is hand-sewn and is completely unique wearable art. Anne works with 5 Kuna ladies to create her Whale Wear, most of whom were struggling single mothers, but now, they are kept busy making new whale and dolphin designs on the clothing. Anne is proud to compensate her Kuna team based on Fair Trade practices.
Anne & Otniel ready to welcome you into their world!
When Anne returned to California after meeting Otniel a friend of hers told her about meeting an engaging woman, Linda Shay, who was offering a school called Dolphin Heart World. She was intrigued and after speaking with Linda she signed up for the school immediately. Anne had grown up with the orca whales and had always loved the dolphins, but now, Linda's school taught how to incorporate the Dolphin Living Skills of Joy, Play, Flow, Abundance and Love into our human lives. When she shared with Linda about meeting Otniel and his family in the jungle, she said that it sounded like the Emberá village was very similar to life in a Dolphin pod, where every member is valued and contributes to the survival of the group. Anne thought this was a perfect comparison and description of what village life. Anne was moving to Panama to become part of a human dolphin pod! No wonder it felt like home to her from the minute she met the Emberá. Dolphin school was a series of 6 weekend courses spread out over 1.5 years, so while she was making the move to Panama to begin her new life with Otniel, she was traveling back to the US every 3-4 months for the next set of classes.
When Anne moved in with Otniel, she was confident that all the inner work she had done through her spiritual studies would make life easy for them. What she did not realize, having never before been married or lived with a man, that being in a close relationship and living with a man can push buttons you never knew you had. Such was the case with Anne. Thank goodness for Dolphin School. Just when Anne was about ready to give up on her ability to interact with Otniel when challenges came up without a deep-seated anger blowing up inside her, she attended the next Dolphin school weekend and through a simple exercise presented in class, all of the anger simply disappeared! The school gave her a new sense of calm and ease to face problems in a joyful way and it allowed her to deepen her new relationship with Otniel instead of destroying it.
Anne & Otniel on the day he asked her out for the first time.
To find out more about joining her on her tours, a Spiritual Retreat,
booking her for speaking at your event, press interview, a Dolphin Energy Healing, etc.
The Cetacean Summit 2015 Presenters
While Anne was promoting her whale watching tours she became involved in Whale Watching International which is now a part of the World Cetacean Alliance. These groups are dedicated to promoting responsible whale watching worldwide. As a result of her participation in these groups and attending their conferences in the US and UK she was included in a group that was invited as expert advisors to the International Whaling Commission's Whale Watching Workshop held in Australia. Anne has also been asked to write articles and speak about responsible whale watching and tourism in general and she has been asked to advise whale watching companies in Mexico in how they can improve and become more responsible with their tours.
Responsible Whale Watching
As Anne was getting to know Panama and was curious about where she could go to see wild dolphins and whales. It seemed logical that in a country with two oceans only 50 miles apart that somebody would be offering dolphin and/or whale watching tours. She was surprised to find absolutely nothing. Whenever she asked anyone who might know they looked confused and had no idea. In her third year living in Panama, she took a get-away trip in February to Contadora Island in the Pearl Islands, 35 miles South of Panama City. Everyone she met started telling her to come back during whale season. Finally people knew about where to find the whales. Anne learned that Panama (and Costa Rica) is the only region in the world where Humpback whales come from both the Northern and Southern hemispheres to breed and give birth. Every July-October over 2,000 Humpback whales migrate from Antarctica to Panama and December-March approximately 300 Humpbacks arrive from North America. On that first trip to the Pearl Islands she hired a local fisherman to "go find dolphins". They not only found a friendly pod of Spotted dolphins, they also found 4 Humpback whales. Anne decided that if it was that easy to find the whales during their low season she could add Whale and Dolphin watching tours to her tour offerings. In 2007 she launched Whale Watching Panama, offering day tours from the city as well as 3 hour and day tours from Isla Contadora and multiple day trips and her spiritual themed 5 day Whale and Dolphin Wisdom Retreats. Since she began offering her whale watching tours they have a 99% success rate in sighting the whales on all her tours and a 100% success rate on her retreats in the Pearl Islands.
Anne sending Dolphin Energy Healing in the presence of dolphins. (It is not necessary to have dolphins present.)
Anne first started working as a freelance tour guide for a number of tour operators in the area to take tourists to the village. She was enjoying the work, but it was not providing a sufficient income to live on. She decided to put up a website to offer Emberá village tours of her own. Within a week of launching the website she started receiving requests for her tour services and she was off and running. Her tours soon became quite popular and she found herself leading tours almost every day during Panama's peak tourist season, December-April. Now her Emberá Village Tours are well known and respected by visitors to Panama, local residents, travel agents and other tour operators and has repeatedly earned the Certificate of Excellence Award on Trip Advisor.
Anne & Agricia, her beloved mother-in-law
Moving to Panama meant learning a new language, culture and leaving all her friends, family and all she knew behind to be with this young man from the jungle. It was not an easy adjustment for them both, as Anne rented a home near Panama city and Otniel moved from his remote village in the rain forest to be with her. They both had to adapt to many changes in their lives. Their deep love for one another helped them to work through the rough patches. One thing that was very easy for Anne was spending time in Otniel's village with his family. The people in the village easily accepted Anne as an honored and respected member of the family and tribe and Anne felt a joyful sense of ease every moment she spent in the village. Living with Otniel and learning to relax into the slower pace of life with her new Emberá family was wonderful, but how was she going to make a living now? There was no film industry in Panama so she had to look for something else. While spending time with Otniel in the village she saw tour groups who came to the village to learn about the culture and lifestyle of the Emberá tribe. She realized that the majority of tourists who came to visit the village were English speakers from North America. She thought it might be fun to work as a tour guide to bring people out to meet and learn about her new Emberá family. With her new perspective as an adopted member of the Emberá tribe and also as a foreigner she could give unique insights into the culture of the villagers as well as understand what interested the visitors.
Anne's life is an open book. She believes in living in full transparency just as the dolphins do (through their use of sonar they can "see" any physical or emotional problem in others). She loves to share her life and loves with others through her public speaking engagements, press interviews, Emberá Village Tours, Whale Watching tours, Whale and Dolphin Wisdom Retreats or in her books. She looks forward to being able to share her world with you soon.
During a casual conversation with her friend, Laurie Reyon, an Interspecies Communicator, they talked about how fun it would be to gather the world's best whale and dolphin communicators, healers, channels and wisdom teachers. Anne thought about and created the first Cetacean Summit in Kona, Hawaii in 2015. It was a powerful event and a great success. So much so, that now Anne plans on holding a Cetacean Summit at a different location around the world each year. The next one will be in Dana Point, California, Sept. 18-22, 2016. The theme is "Sharing insights from the Cetaceans for our transitioning world."