World’s sexiest vet Evan Antin reveals his dirtiest animal tales
In 2006, when he found himself in Australia, on the first leg of his round-the-world trek to study wildlife, Evan Antin learned a valuable lesson: “Don’t feed the animals.”
But the then 21-year-old vet in training, now the star of Animal Planet’s “Evan Goes Wild,” couldn’t help himself. He had been feeding a hungry kangaroo pieces of bread from his sandwich on a beach in Murramarang National Park. After the curious marsupial snatched the scraps from Antin’s own hand, he decided to put a morsel between his lips and invited the kangaroo to take it.
“No, you don’t have to tell me that was stupid,” writes Antin in his new book “World Wild Vet: Encounters in the Animal Kingdom” (Henry Holt), out Tuesday. “I know. My furry friend hopped over, leaned in, and planted one on me.”
As Antin, now 35, recalls, “it was more a bite than a kiss” as the kangaroo seized on his mouth and clamped down hard.
Moments like these haven’t deterred Antin from getting “up close and personal” with wildlife. Since exploring the woods around his home in Kansas as a child, he has wanted to be a veterinarian, a job that has since taken him all over the world — from orangutans in the forests of Borneo to venomous snakes in the lawless wilderness of Darien Gap in Panama and Colombia.
Boasting 1.3 million followers on Instagram, Antin is regularly filmed in tight T-shirts and jeans lying next to baboons or cuddling baby slugs in the wild. In 2019, GQ magazine named him the most famous veterinarian on earth, “and probably the sexiest.” The magazine chronicled his strict weight-training routine, which involves bench-pressing and lifting heavy weights for an hour each day. He says he has been following the regime since he was 13, and that being in top shape helps him endure punishing trips through the African savannah and South American rainforests when he’s not working at Conejo Valley Veterinary Hospital in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Antin is passionate about exotic creatures, especially snakes. As a teen, he came across a venomous copperhead; fascinated, he brought it home and kept it in a terrarium beside his bed. But when the animal began to shed its skin, Antin picked it up for a closer look and it bit him on the nose, which immediately swelled up. He drove himself to a nearby hospital, where he immediately received four vials of anti-venom, saving his life.
One night in 2013, on the Indonesian island of Komodo, he climbed on top of a shack to get a closer look at a 7-foot-long green Timor python. As he reached for the snake, he crashed through the threadbare roof and fell 10 feet to where local rangers slept. Miraculously, he landed on his feet.
Throughout his hairiest encounters, he learned to take everything in stride, laughing at his strange encounters along the way.
In Tanzania in 2007, he spent part of a college internship living with the Maasai tribe. Before he left his host family, the nomadic elders honored him by killing one of their goats, strangling the animal so its blood clotted instantly. They then cut it open to offer Antin the first taste.
“I slurped a blood clot from the tribesman’s hand and swallowed,” writes Antin in his book.
But just as he thought he had endured the worst, the Maasai tribesman reached into the warm goat carcass and pulled out a kidney for Antin to eat. “He smoothly cut a slice from it and extended it to me,” he writes. “And so I accepted it, thinking of how my mom always told me to mind my manners at the table.”
Antin is so obsessed with wildlife that on a trip to Costa Rica in 2009 with his girlfriend, the journalist Nathalie Basha, he checked into their hotel and immediately went in search of his favorite reptile, the crocodile. He found one in a nearby swamp but realized he had left his camera in the hotel room, so he gathered up the crocodile, wrapped his belt around its snout and placed the animal gently in the back seat while he drove back to his hotel. There, he persuaded his girlfriend to return to the swamp to photograph the beast.
“To her eternal credit, after telling me I was out of my flipping mind, she put on her boots, slung a camera bag over her shoulder, and headed for the door,” he writes.
The couple is now engaged to be married.
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