Evan Antin is a beast. 

Not literally, of course, but figuratively; he’s an unstoppable force of kindness, a wildlife veterinarian, a die-hard adventurer, and a man that has as much expertise of the animal kingdom as he does Hollywood good looks. And when it comes to going up against actual beasts – like, of the animal variety – he more than holds his own. Take for instance when he encountered a 300-pound Mexican crocodile with an eye infection on his Animal Planet show, Evan Goes Wild. Evan wrestled that croc to the ground, inspected its troublesome eye, and set it free with a clean bill of health. 

He’s essentially a hero to the animal kingdom…and to his fanbase of over 1 million followers on Instagram.

But when I spoke to Evan, the location was much less exotic. We caught up over Zoom from our respective living rooms to talk about from where his love of animals stemmed and his new book, World Wild Vet, which was released on October 27th. 

Evan’s book, which is one part travel diary, another part memoir, and also a call for conservationism, is something he’s been working on for two years. Because of all the notable locations his veterinary work has taken him, the incredible animals he’s had the opportunity to interact with, and the environmental issues he’s been able to observe, he knew the time was right to chronicle everything and put it into his first memoir; an exploration of the world and a love letter to the creatures we share it with. 

In addition to the inspiring and astonishing animal stories Evan details in the book – which will elicit emotions of equal parts awe and tenderness – he also delved into why conserving the planet’s animals is so crucial. While he’s made fast friends with people who are fighting for animal protection, he expressed to me that unfortunately, the odds are stacked against their altruistic efforts.

“Raising awareness and just educating people is so important, and that’s where I feel like I can make a difference,” Evan said. “That’s the first step to conserving our wildlife; making people aware of what the problem is.”

And Evan warns, before you share another cute meme of a droopy-eyed sloth or a selfie-snapping chimpanzee, think twice. 

“While I do a lot of work on social media, it can have a more negative impact on wildlife than a positive one,” he told me. “Even people who love animals can be destructive to the conservation of certain species. If you see something questionable, be on the safe side and think before you share it.”

The exploitation of cute pictures or videos we see of animals on social media actually fuels the poaching of them. If an animal-loving person isn’t aware of that photo’s implications, they can share it, and like it, and leave a comment, and by doing so, they are unwittingly putting an entire species in danger, because it increases a demand for them to be killed.

Evan also told me about how his love of animals is an innate quality that he can’t remember not having. While growing up in Kansas City, Kansas, he was constantly exploring the creek in his backyard and searching for reptiles because he admired how unique and different they were from other land-dwellers. In fact, when I asked him what his spirit animal was, he responded that it would probably be a reptile; because that was the species that truly sparked his love of animals overall.

And for those of us who fear certain creatures in the animal kingdom – like sharks, or snakes, or even dogs (the dog fearers shall remain nameless) – we shouldn’t stress. Evan was reassuring and told me that the snakes and spiders of the world are way more afraid of us than we are of them. In fact, more people die per year of being bit by humans than sharks. Remind me to steer clear of my 14-month-old teething nephew.

Evan’s kindness, professionalism, and big heart are not only endearing, but inspiring. If nothing else, he is an amazing teacher whose lesson of compassion for those that are different than us should be taught the world over.

Evan’s new book, World Wild Vet, is available now wherever books are sold. 

Photography by: Karl Simone