Something fun about being a reporter is getting a glimpse inside so many different careers. I love interviewing economists, pilots, professors and — near the top of the list — wildlife experts.

I got a little jealous of Corbin Maxey’s job when I interviewed him last week. Maxey, who is from Meridian, works with animals every day. He particularly handles reptiles and amphibians at his family’s five-acre property along the Snake River in Marsing.

Maxey is only 28 and has spent half his life working with animals, getting his start as a TV personality at age 14 with Jay Leno. This year, the “Today” show has featured him five times.

Maxey said he uses the national stage to educate people about animals, sharing quirky facts and highlighting the dangers of habitat destruction. He and his animals also visit local schools, libraries and homes for abused children. The animals help the kids open up, Maxey said.

My jealousy for Maxey’s work subsided a little when I heard about his battle wounds. I asked if he’d ever been hurt on the job.

“Oh my goodness, yes,” he said.

He’s been bitten by iguanas, alligators and a 10-foot python, to name a few.

“I have scars,” Maxey said. “That’s what comes with the job.”

We reached out to Maxey last week because he was one of the featured presenters at Saturday’s Community Block Party in Meridian. I kept the interview under an hour, but I could have talked about animals all day.

Maxey’s description of his childhood reminded me of my own. We both grew up in rural areas. He lived in Robie Creek outside of Boise before moving to Meridian in middle school, and I grew up surrounded by farmland south of Nampa. We both relied on nature and the outdoors for entertainment.

My big thing was spiders. They are among the most fascinating creatures — they can make silk, design intricate webs, hunt like experts and protect themselves with venom. Don’t get me started.

As a kid I would catch spiders and create little habitats for them in empty peanut butter jars. The roster included Charlotte, a black widow.

My brothers and I collected tadpoles from the nearby canal, and once we dissected a gopher. As family lore goes, that actually inspired my brother to become a physician assistant.

My family had cats, dogs, ducks and chickens — the white Silkie Bantam chickens whose chicks look like little cotton balls running around the yard. Watch out, though, the roosters are mean.

I refrained from sharing all this with Maxey, though he did get to learn about the spiders.

Maxey said part of his goal is to reduce fear and misunderstanding toward animals, especially those seen as “creepy,” such as snakes.

“So many people are scared of them, they kill snakes on site. But the fact is they’re so beneficial for us,” Maxey said. “If we didn’t have snakes, we would be knee-deep in rats and mice.”

I asked if his animals get stressed out on stage with the lights and cameras. He said he only presents with animals that are used to people and can handle that environment.

“There are experts that have made the mistake of bringing animals on that are stressed and look really, really distressed,” Maxey said. “You have to be very careful, there’s definitely a fine line.”


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