As a young man I explored my wildlife interests by raising many different species of monitor lizards. Raising wildlife seems to run in my family. My uncle, Jim Mendenhall (a well known herpetologist in Florida), has been a large influence in my life. I acquired a wealth of knowledge while attending my uncle's reptile sanctuary. I later joined the Everglades Herpetological Society where I met and interacted with many well-known Herpetologists such as Joe Wasilewski.
I began my career with Parrot Jungle and Gardens, where I learned the logistics of animal training and husbandry. My first role was as an animal trainer and show person for Birds of Prey, small Mammals, Crocodilians, and of course Parrots. I had the privilege to work with Joe Wasilewski in his “Fangs and Jurassic Jungle” shows.
I further expanded my animal expertise by joining a private wildlife company based out of South Florida. With this wildlife company I wore many hats. I fed, housed, trained, and performed with the entire animal team.
The animals included Leopards, Tigers, Cougars, Lynx, Bobcats, Monkeys, Lemurs, Otters, Raccoons, Coatis, Kinkajous, Bats, Spiders, Scorpions, Crocodiles, Alligators, Caimans, Cobras, Vipers, Iguanas, Tortoises, Parrots, Hawks, Eagles, Falcons, Owls, and other animals. I traveled around the United States performing and coordinating live animal shows.
I went on to establish Wild Florida Productions, Inc. based out of South Florida. I performed live animal shows regularly at Everglades Safari Park. I also have worked on several different projects, including film and TV documentaries about Our Animal Stars.
One of my favored attractions is by far my North American River Otters. My 6 otters are named Jobe, Charlie, Suzie, Annie, Chloe, and Timmy. All 6 otters were orphaned from the wild and given to me when they were pups.
The responsibility of sheltering the otters began with bottle feeding every four hours until the otters were 12 weeks old. North American River Otters are one of the most prolific swimmers in the animal kingdom; but, this is a learned behavior taught by their mother. Since all the otters were orphaned when they were pups, I served as the otters' daddy. I taught the otters to swim, first in my bathroom sink, then later in their natural habitat.
I do not restrain the otters when they are playing in the wild. The remarkable thing is that the otters free dive in close proximity to me at all times.
A well-known fact is that the river otters are extremely good fishermen. During their outings in the wild, the otters catch and eat several fish on their own. Unfortunately, otters don't really like to share, not even with me!
Well, I hope that you've learned a little about me and the passion I have to educate as many people as I can. I certainly look forward to coming to your event and share my passion with you!