Who we are
Born in 1965 in Italy, Francesco De Giorgio is a forward thinker about animal ethics as well as a biologist, ethologist and applied behavioural researcher. Francesco is member of the Ethics Commitee of ISAE (International Society of Applied Ethology), specialized in equine and canine ethology. He is also founder, developer and facilitator at the Learning Animals | International Institute for Zooanthropology, where he focuses principally on the study of animal-human interaction, ethics, animal personal growth and rehabilitation.
Graduating from Parma University in 1989, Francesco began his career as an independent field researcher, supporting several universities whilst indulging his lifelong passion for horses and dogs as an Equine and Canine Learning Professional - helping owners to enhance their relationships with animals.
Described by International School of Ethology (Erice, IT), Director Danilo Mainardi as “a man who works with his head and his heart and his hands”, Francesco walks the talk - integrating scientific knowledge into ethical day-to-day practice.
An expert in equine and canine welfare, Francesco provides expert support for institutions occupied with animal Health and Welfare (e.g. in equine mistreatment cases), has served on a number of ethics committees, and acts as an advisor to courts, police and equine rehabilitation centres, in animal abuse cases and rehabilitations post-abuse.
Much sought-after as both a speaker and lecturer, Francesco speaks regularly on ‘Cognitive Ethology in the Animal-Human Relationship’. He also lectures at several universities and has presented to numerous conferences and symposia on ethology, cognition and zooanthropology and published the books "Horse- Human dictionary" (in italian) and "The Cognitive Horse" (in english and italian), and recently the Animality Manifest: "Nel nome dell'Animalita'".
José De Giorgio-Schoorl
Francesco’s partner in both life and work, Dutch born José Schoorl personifies the bridge between equine perception and human understanding. Their shared passion for horses and keen insight in social dynamics brought them together and today they live in the Netherlands with their eight horse companions, four dogs and two cats.
Graduating from the university of applied sciences in business and engineering in 1997, specialized in organizational change, José started her professional carrier combining her analytic skills with a keen eye for social dynamics and ability to facilitate cultural differences. Her work as cultural change facilitator continues today, building bridges for people with a passion for nonhuman animals, professionals and researchers, offering a possibility to break the many mental schemes and habits that our current anthropocentric oriented society brings along with it. Where cultural differences ones came from different educational backgrounds or nationalities, today the differences she bridges are extended towards different species, as "if it comes to being attuned and being in dialogue with a person from a different culture or a different background is not so different from having a shared experience with an individual from another species."
From 2002 until 2005 she studies various courses further related to human development; leadership development, rational emotional therapy, master in coaching, communication dynamics, organization social dynamics and in 2003 obtained a master in hippotherapy focused on sensomotoric integration. In 2006, worried about the performance oriented approaches and animal objectification in animal assisted interventions (such as hippotherapy) and the same tendency in company life, where she sees human individuals getting more and more trapped in process optimization and desensitized in social dynamics, she decides to leave the company world, to dedicate herself in bringing back the value of understanding social dynamics, both in human-nonhuman interactions as in human-human interactions.
In 2008 she founded the Learning Animals Institute together with her husband Dr. Francesco De Giorgio and has been working ever since in creating awareness to study human-nonhuman animal interactions from a socio- cognitive point of view. A paradigm shift when it comes to addressing interspecies interactions, it has been a model to further understand human-human relationship dynamics as well, for which in 2014 she started working as external advisor for the project “Autism; from a different point of view” initiated by the Dutch Ministery. In 2012 she wrote “The Cognitive Horse” together with Dr. Francesco De Giorgio, which was released in 2014 in Italy as “Comprendere il Cavallo” and will in 2017 in the US entitled “Equus Lost?”.