From September 15-October 15 it's National Hispanic Heritage month. In the professional world of wildlife there is not usually a good mix of representation, but @MadBioReptiles came to mind quickly as a wildlife champion we need to highlight!
@MadBioReptiles is an animal enthusiast & zookeeper who uses social media as a way to educate & bring awareness to animals by creating photos & videos that catch the eye of people who are willing to learn. He also collaborates with artists to spice up their work with the help of some of his personal pets.
Can you tell us a bit about how you began working at your current job and how it has impacted your love of reptiles?
My love for animals, especially of reptiles, led me to my current position. When I was younger I would go on dangerous adventures back in Puerto Rico. I would go into private lands looking for snakes, which often ended up empty handed. I would climb mango trees and watch iguanas lay in the tallest branches of the trees sunbathing. Nowadays I live in Florida working with larger kinds of reptile known as crocodilians. I work mainly with Alligators (Alligator mississipiensis) & Spectacled Caimans (Caiman crocodylus), which have only expanded my knowledge and love for these reptiles.
Back when I was in college whenever I had extra time I would write this book I called “Mavros Bio” which means “Dark Biology”. It was about a man who had the power and strength of all living organisms and used them to destroy humankind because of the side effects of the species. When I went into social media I decided to change mavros into mad so that people understood the message. I started off on YouTube where a lot of my following started. I moved to Instagram once I realized I can gain followers a lot faster and then introduce them to my YouTube channel after.
You are incredibly active on your account and have great engagement from what I can tell. How do you find the time to create content, check in with followers and work a full-time job?
It’s really hard to manage my time with social media, work, friends and family. I try to split
everything into days, but I still feel like it’s not enough. When it comes to content, I'll take pictures throughout the week and save them so that I have tons of days worth of content to stay consistent. I still struggle to balance everything out, but I think it shouldn't be perfectly balanced until I finally reach my goals.
After working at your organization for so long, have you grown to have any favorite animals that you like to work with?
Yes of course, When I first started working they showed me the Spectacled Caiman (Caiman crocodylus) and they explained they were a lot more shy and defensive. They were small, their bite was not serious, but could still break skin pretty badly, so no one wanted to work with them. I decided to push myself to tame them down and today I am able to hand feed and even pet one of the caiman. I am currently working on the second, but for now Hyde is my favorite animal.
Not only are you amazing on social media, but you also take things offline and meet regularly with people at organized photoshoots and reptile shows. What gave you the idea to create community both online and in-person, and what prompted the photoshoots (which result in some really stunning pictures)?
I created a social media & in person community because I want people learning with me to be hands-on. I want to inspire people to come out with me to learn and have fun. I want to inspire people to be themselves and to be one with nature. I ran into one model on Instagram (@leynarivers) and photographer (@cnhphotography) who needed a snake for a shoot. After that photoshoot people DM me every day to schedule a photoshoot. I use it as a way of promoting myself & bringing people to join my journey at @MadBioReptiles. This past weekend I brought a group of models and photographers at the place where I volunteer to meet animals like lemurs, raccoons, opossums and other animals. They got introduced into my world. The world we are supposed to live in naturally. They understood my point more. Being hands-on pointed out how important it is for us to protect our wildlife and its environment. That’s what my goal is I don’t just want to post cool photos and expect people to understand I want them to experience what I am trying to educate about.
As your reach continually increases, what plans do you have for the future of your work?
In the future I want to have an army always ready. If the everglades was suffering I want my army there helping it survive. If the ocean is too polluted with plastic I want my army out ready to clean it. If our future is not looking good I want my army out educating the next generation. I will be right there next to the ones who really care. I will be at the front line making a difference on this earth keeping it alive for the next generation...... And when I’m gone the next generation will keep the movement alive.