Fantastic Fall

October Blog

Fall has always been my favorite season. Cooling temperatures, changing leaves, and the holidays just around the corner. It’s also quite a busy time out here on the river, as we prepare for the animals to move into their indoor homes for the winter. This fall in particular though has proved to be the busiest- and I say this in a good way! From national appearances on The Today Show and Inside Edition, to traveling to one of the most remote areas in the United States, to a devastating flood that threatened our animals and property, it has been one to remember. Take a look at some of my most memorable highlights:

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Kate holding a baby Bear Cat from Babby Farms and me with Kingston the tegu from the Idaho Herpetological Society.

Next to working with animals on television, radio is one of my favorite passions. I discovered this early on years ago while appearing on Boise’s #1 radio show, “Mike & Kate in the Morning” on Mix 106. Since those early appearances, they’ve even allowed me to co-host several times. What was so great about this appearance, was not only promoting my upcoming Today Show appearance, but announcing that I was going to be a guest on national radio for the very first time. Sharing the news that I was going to appear on Sirius XM’s Today Show radio with Hoda Kotb, was something I’ll always remember. I’m forever grateful to Mike and Kate for allowing me to appear so many times, helping me hone in on my radio skills, ultimately preparing me for national radio.

Another interesting aspect of this appearance was the live web cam, allowing listeners a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like with animals on the radio.

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Looking at this photo you’d never know that it was actually taken in the heart of New York City, Central Park! Exploring the park was a great way to relax and collect my thoughts before my Today Show appearance.

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Left: Betty White the Albino Skunk from ZooAmerica pictured with actress and comedian Whitney Cummings. Top Right: Deep Sea Isopod from Adventure Aquarium. Bottom Right: 5lb Hershey Bar!

Booking animals for The Today Show is a task within itself. Months go into planning a segment for the show and my producer and I are always looking for unusual animals that are not regularly featured on TV. For this particular segment, the theme on the show was “WOW Me Week” on TODAY, raising the stakes even higher.

*** On a side note: Whitney Cummings was one of the most pleasant celebrities I’ve ever met.

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Black-Throated Magpie Jays.

An exciting aspect of this segment was not only featuring unusual, WOW animals but showcasing certain behaviors that have never be exhibited before on The Today Show. This is where the Black-Throated Magpie Jays come in, as they are considered one of the most intelligent animals on earth, up there with the Great Apes. Respected bird trainer Phung Lu trained these particular birds to build a nest on cue, as to demonstrate their intelligence.

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Even though the stakes were set higher, the segment went without a flaw (If you don’t count the birds flying around the set and landing on a camera, which I personally think adds to the show!)

Security badge in hand about to head up to the Sirius XM studios.

Security badge in hand about to head up to the Sirius XM studios.

That afternoon I headed over to the Sirius XM studios to do what I never even dreamt was possible, having a one-on-one conversation with Today Show anchor Hoda Kotb on national radio.

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It was incredible to see someone I’d watch as a kid on Dateline and then eventually on The Today Show be so down-to-earth. Granted, I’ve worked with Hoda numerous times on The Today Show, but to actually sit down and have a conversation with her, without the glamorous lights & cameras was something I’ll always remember.

Jet's Pizza- The best in the world.

After a busy day of press it was time to escape the crowds and tall buildings and return to a much simpler pace of life. It was time to explore Pure Michigan and all it has to offer, including the best pizza in the world, Jet’s.

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The Lower Falls located in Tahquamenon National Park.

We took a trip to one of the most remote areas in the United States, the Upper Peninsula located in the northernmost part of Michigan.

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The fall colors were absolutely breathtaking.

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The Upper Falls.

I’d never seen anything like the Tahquamenon Falls in my life. I remember thinking at that very moment how surreal it was being somewhere so remote in nature, when just days prior I was in the biggest metropolis in the United States.

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Divers encountered a rare Sunfish off the coast of Portugal.

Unlike my Today Show appearances that take weeks and even months to plan, my Inside Edition interview’s are often spontaneous and are filmed just hours before they hit the air. If I’m in New York, they are filmed in-studio. But more often than not, they are filmed wherever I happen to be via Face Time. This time around it was Michigan, and I was thrilled to talk about the gigantic Sunfish!

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The last few months, I had been out of town more than I had been home. I don’t say this in a bad way though; I spent years working on my career aspiring to travel the country. Out of all my travels though, I can say there is nothing like home out here on the Snake River in Idaho. I was thrilled to come back and see my kids (animals).

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Days after my return we experienced an unexpected flood that damaged our outdoor animal exhibits with the most damage to the tortoise yard. Happy to report that all the animals were safe and secure inside their indoor homes.

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Tinkerbelle the tortoise thrilled to be outside once again after the flood.

Less than a day after, we were able to fix the damages and the animals resumed their daily activities out here on the river.

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As October comes to an end, I cannot express how thankful and fortunate I am to live out something that I only dreamt of as kid. Thank you all for the support and taking time to read this fall update. I cannot wait to share with you what the future holds…