At 21 Elly left her native home—in The Netherlands—and relocated to Bonaire in the Dutch Caribbean.
One of her initial projects on the still-developing Caribbean island was to help set up an animal shelter. Years later, she co-founded the Foundation Animal Welfare, and in 2004 she opened her own company, the Mangrove Info Center, which provides kayak eco-tours within the confines of Bonaire’s Lac Bay mangroves.
In 2018, Elly also founded Bonaire Wild Bird Rehab, after an oil spill in Trinidad brought clumps of tar across the Caribbean Sea to Bonaire’s eastern shore, oiling many seabirds. Elly was instrumental in the recovery of many of the oild birds.
The mission of this non-profit foundation is to give the best possible care to injured, sick, or orphaned wild birds and release them back in their natural habitat. Since 2018, Bonaire Wild Bird Rehab has rehabilitated over 1500 American Flamingo chicks and countless other birds of many species.