Though nearly everybody adores animals, only a select few dedicate their entire careers to our four-legged friends. These jobs range from zoologist to dog walker, but every once in a while, one bold animal lover sees a chance to do something a little bit more…unexpected.
This dapper fellow has saved the lives of more animals than he can count. But if the average joe wandered into his office, chances are that he would run out screaming. Curious to see what’s inside? Dr. Antin will see you now.
It’s not every day you get a peck on the cheek from a rhinoceros. But that’s business as usual for Evan Antin. While his job is pretty irregular, he’s earned more than a few fans for his hard work.
Maybe it’s no surprise that animals are at the center of Evan’s career. His fondest childhood memories involve exploring the creek by his home. He excitedly flipped over rocks, hoping to find bugs and slimy creatures hiding underneath.
Even as a college student, where many of his classmates’ heads were occupied by fantasies of hot dates and beer pong, Evan had animals on his mind. He wanted to devote his career to them, but not in the conventional sense.
Colorado State University
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Evan became a veterinarian. Unlike most of his colleagues, this doctor doesn’t limit himself to cats and dogs. Always looking for a challenge, Evan specializes in critters you wouldn’t necessarily find at your local pet store.
So be forewarned if you visit Conejo Valley Veterinary Hospital in Thousand, Oaks California. You’ll probably encounter an eyeful of feathers and scales just walking into the lobby — the kind of sight that would scare away most vets.
Evan hits the ground running every morning. Oftentimes, he’ll be carrying a monitor lizard or some other giant creature while opening the front door! As soon as he steps inside, he grabs his white coat and stethoscope.
Then it’s time for business. While most people are still waiting for the effects of their morning coffee to kick in, Evan has got his hands around rare and dangerous animals. There are plenty of risks, too.
You can’t handle fangs and claws every day without getting a scar here or there. Evan learned that lesson the hard way. However, he’s never regretted his choice to specialize in exotic animals. It’s his reason for getting out of bed.
He explained, “I get to work with animals every day and making them healthy and better is extremely gratifying.” While he’s a great veterinarian, Evan has become notable for more than just his professional accomplishments.
Countless worried patients fret away in the Conejo Valley waiting room. They come in hoping their pets pull through, but one other thing about the practice usually distracts them a bit — and makes for some awkward conversations.
It’s hard not to notice that Evan is quite a handsome guy. On more than one occasion, his clients have even asked him out on a date! There’s one specific connection many of his admirers make.
Evan looks just like Henry Cavill, best known for playing Superman! This vet can’t fly or shoot laser beams out of his eyes — as far as we know — but his good looks and dedication to animals earned him a big honor.
Los Angeles Times
In 2017, People magazine named Evan the sexiest veterinarian on the planet! Granted, that’s not a title they give out every year, but they figured a special dude like Evan deserved a little recognition. It wasn’t long before he was famous.
Before long, Evan’s number of social media followers skyrocketed past one million. News channels and websites barraged him with interview requests. He had to wonder — was he becoming too popular to be a good vet?
Once his insecurity settled down, Evan spotted an opportunity. All this publicity could be a great way to advocate for animals and educate the world! Of course, he would need to extend his reach beyond southern California.
The vet decided that, whenever he found the time, he would travel the world and showcase different animals. Many fans were upset to see Evan’s girlfriend tag along, but they really dug his take on the animal kingdom. It kind of reminded them of someone.
YouTube / Travel Muse
Evan came off as a gentle, American version of Steve Irwin — his personal hero. The Crocodile Hunter was his favorite show growing up, so it was an incredible joy to follow in his footsteps.
As a further tribute to the Croc Hunter, Evan said that his favorite animal was the crocodile! However, he was quick to add that he adored all mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish that came through his office door.
Truth be told, Evan wouldn’t mind if his fame disappeared overnight. What really matters to him is showing that even the strangest-looking creatures deserve our respect and care. After all, you don’t have to be a trained professional to make a surprising animal friend.
Gilberto ‘Chito’ Shedden was a pretty typical farmer and fisherman in Siqquires, Costa Rica. He did have a flair for showmanship, which brought him to sometimes give tours of the province.
In 1989, Chito was strolling along the banks of the Reventazón River. It was a peaceful day, but little did he realize that danger was lurking nearby.
He locked eyes with a fully-grown male crocodile, a fierce hunter with an iron jaw who wouldn’t shirk from going after humans from time to time. Was Chito the featured special on today’s menu?
Strangely, the croc didn’t move an inch. Chito overcame his initial dread and inspected the beast. On top of being fairly underweight, it was suffering from a serious head injury.
It appeared that someone shot the reptile in the head and left it for dead. It was most likely a cattle rancher trying to defend his herd from predators.
The crocodile didn’t appear the least bit hostile. Out of compassion, Chito loaded it into his boat and brought him home. His family wasn’t exactly thrilled, of course.
But Chito was determined to earn this beast’s trust. Whenever he got a chance, he went out to feed it fish and chicken, while also trying to get it used to petting and human contact.
Before too long, the crocodile became completely healthy and docile. Chito named it Pocho, after the Costa Rican term for ‘strong.’ They were practically inseparable.
He even managed to get his wife and daughter to warm up to Pocho by sticking his arms inside its mouth. It would be crazy to do with any other crocodile, but Pocho wouldn’t hurt a fly.
How was this possible? A nature photographer who met Pocho theorized that the head wound damaged the part of his brain that makes crocodiles aggressive toward other animals.
As Chito continued to train Pocho, word got out about the fisherman with the friendly pet crocodile. More and more people wanted to see it, but Chito was afraid of getting in trouble with the law.
Chito did the responsible thing and obtained a permit from the police to become Pocho’s legal guardian. That had to be the most interesting paperwork the office filled out that day!
Flickr / Doug Morris
Now that all the pieces were in place, Chito announced that he and Pocho were going to put on a show like no other. A large crowd gathered along the riverbank on the big day.
Diving right into the water with his scaly friend, Chito cycled through an amazing array of stunts. He swam circles around the croc, stuck his head underneath its legs, and even opened up its mouth for a peek inside.
The crowd went wild. Pocho and Chito were a sensation, and they even went on to star in their own documentary, ‘The Man Who Swims With Crocodiles.’
For 20 years, crowds from all over the globe came to watch Pocho and Chito perform. They always gasped when they saw Pocho’s size, but the beast never once harmed Chito.
Besides gaining local fame, Pocho became a true member of the Shedden family. Though Chito’s wife did get pretty mad when he admitted that he might love Pocho more than her!
YouTube / National Geographic
Even when there was no show happening, Chito would spend as much time as possible with the crocodile. There was nothing he enjoyed more than swimming and cuddling with his unusual pet.
Sadly, Pocho died of natural causes in 2011. When Chito held an elaborate funeral to honor his one-of-a-kind companion, throngs of fans and admirers turned up to pay their respects.
But Chito can always be proud of how far he came with Pocho, and what they accomplished together. Where the world saw a monster, he discovered a true friend.