When most people think of a warm bath, they think of soothing waters, bubbles and pure relaxation. When 24-year-old Michael Holston thinks of a warm bath, he thinks of inviting his pet anaconda to get in on some of that sweet soaking action. And he does! Anacondas love water, after all.
That’s a little reptilian factoid I learned while speaking with Holston about his rise on social media as the fearless, fun-loving zookeeper captivating audiences with his dope animal videos and pics. Whether he’s cuddling with aforementioned anaconda or boldly leaping off a cliff into muddy waters to grab a big-ass turtle with his bare hands, fans can’t get enough of Holston’s antics. They’re already calling him “Tanned Steve Irwin.”
It’s a bold comparison to make. Steve Irwin was/is the GOAT of conservation/acting crazy around feral beasts. But Holston, who also goes by “The Real Tarzann,” doesn’t mind it the least bit. He grew up idolizing Irwin and hopes to become a hero for today’s kids, just like Irwin was to him.
“Day in and day out I strive like many others just to accomplish the things Irwin has done for our wildlife and planet!” Holston says. “I always wanted to be like him… and I still do!”
The Providence, Rhode Island native reveals that his primary goal is also to travel the world like Irwin. “I want to show everybody the smallest wildlife and the most dangerous wildlife,” he says. “Get close as possible. Hold it, hug it, touch it, kiss it.”
Until that dream comes true, however, Holston remains a man with many zoological hats. He currently works as a manager at an exotic reptile farm where he breeds, buys, sells, and rescues reptiles, amphibians, and selected exotic mammals. Using basketball lingo, Holston describes himself as a swingman — if there’s work to be done, he’s on it.
“I basically do everything from build cages, to clean cages, to inventory on animals, to feeding them, watering them, to posting them online, taking pictures, and Photoshopping, and putting watermarks, and answering calls, and taking orders,” he says, without pausing for a breath. “I mean, you name it, and I do it.”
When he’s not chilling at the farm with carnivorous beasts, you can catch Holston tending to tigers, lemurs, and cougars at the Zoological Wildlife Foundation in Miami, Florida as a zookeeper.
“I get trained by veteran zookeepers on how to do enrichment and train with other dangerous animals like chimpanzees, and tigers.”
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