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Exclusive: A Q&A with Internet Heartthrob, Dr. Evan Antin

The veterinarian who captured the Internet’s heart sits down with us to discuss his fame, his love for animals and his passion for veterinary medicine.

Evan Antin, DVM, at the 2016 Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas.

Jessica Pineda

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When Evan Antin, DVM, graduated from Colorado State University’s College Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in 2013, he probably never expected to become famous for his good looks.

It all started in late 2014 when People magazine named him “Sexiest Beast Charmer” in its annual “Sexiest Man Alive” issue. However, that press and the fame that followed were nothing compared to what happened this past January, when the website Bored Panda published an article titled “The Hottest Animal Doctor Ever That’ll Make You Want To Get Your Pet Checked.”

The article featured photos of Dr. Antin from his Instagram page, and it quickly went viral.

Soon, BuzzFeed, US Weekly, ABC and media outlets around the world were labeling him the Internet’s sexiest veterinarian. His social media fans grew to more than 266,000 Instagram followers and nearly 145,000 Facebook followers.

Antin has taken the fame—and colleagues’ teasing—in stride. While he has his own YouTube channel—“Evan Antin Wild Vet”—he stays focused on veterinary medicine. He practices at Conejo Valley Veterinary Hospital in Thousand Oaks, Calif., alongside 14 other practitioners.

Veterinary Practice News sat down with Antin at the Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas to talk about his Internet presence, his passion for animals and why he decided to become a veterinarian.

(By the way, he’s engaged to be married.)

Veterinary Practice News: So how’s fame been?

It’s been fun. I don’t want to sound silly, but this has been the most famous I’ve ever felt. I have a pretty big following on social media, and a lot of them are people in the field: technicians, veterinarians, vet students. Walking around [at WVC], a couple dozen times of day people stop me, wanting to take their picture with me. That stuff makes me feel like a celebrity.

Evan Antin, DVM

CONEJO VALLEY VETERINARY HOSPITAL 

One of Dr. Antin's favorite courses in school was surgery.

Why did you study veterinary medicine and become a veterinarian?

I always loved animals. I grew up just outside Kansas City, Kan., and I had a creek in my backyard and I would always be looking for snakes, turtles and insects. Growing up, I got more involved in sports and being social, but when I got to the end of high school and the start of college, I started taking more science-based classes, such as evolutionary biology, ecology and genetics. I realized that I loved learning about science. I’ve always had an interest in medicine and I was obsessed with animals. Being a veterinarian was clearly the perfect career path.

Everything I did there on out was geared towards getting into veterinary school and becoming a veterinarian, whether it was working in wildlife rescues locally or around the world, or just hanging out volunteering with vets. It’s always been part of my lifestyle.

Something else I love doing is traveling. It’s a huge passion of mine. I travel mostly to the tropics because there’s so much cool wildlife. I can go look for venomous snakes and crocodiles, and I always try to volunteer at a local wildlife rehab sanctuary. I try to help the local wildlife and give back to what I love so much.

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What do you specialize in?

Exotics, wildlife and small animals.

Conejo Valley Veterinary Hospital

Conejo Valley Veterinary Hospital 

Dr. Antin works at the Conejo Valley Veterinary Hospital in Thousand Oaks, Calif. It is an American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)-accredited hospital.

Who are your mentors? Who inspires you?

Steve Irwin was one of my inspirations. I grew up watching Jeff Corwin, too, who I think is pretty funny and had a great message about conservation.

There was someone I saw here [at WVC], Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald. He’s one of your classic, awesome exotic vets. He’s really experienced, and he let me shadow him way before vet school. He got me really involved with the rattlesnake research he was doing. He was super generous and was a big help in getting me into the veterinary program [at CSU].

What was your favorite class in veterinary school?

That’s a tough one. I loved our exotics selectives, for obvious reasons. I loved post-mortem exam—necropsies, basically. I really loved surgery.

One week in surgery rotation in my third year, we actually got to practice terminal surgeries. It sounds controversial, but it was on pigs that were going to be slaughtered no matter what. That was my first intense soft tissue experience. That was one of the coolest weeks of my life. I really like that kind of stuff.

What are you always eager to learn more about?

So many things. As a general practitioner, even with my interest in exotics and wildlife, I have to know a little bit about everything. I love being on top of dog and cat medicine. We extrapolate so much from dog and cat medicine and use that toward exotics. Exotics are different, but we know so much more about dogs and cats. [At WVC] I went to a lot of dog and cat lectures on radiology and medicine to get my comfort level up, learn the newest information and gain experience.

Are you using your celebrity to promote animal welfare causes? I saw a recent Instagram post in which you talked about issues that affect Asiatic and African elephants.

The elephant post was a year ago and it did really well at the time. But when it reposted, I think it’s reached over 5 million people.

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Today is #worldwildlifeday and this year's focus is on Asiatic & African elephants. If you have any interest in elephants then please continue reading…I usually keep my posts positive on purpose, but this is something that is too important to me, so apologies for this sad post….but it must be shared. Did you know that most baby Asian ‪#‎elephants‬ in the tourism trade have gone through a process called "phajaan"? Phajaan is a term that means to crush the elephants spirit, or to separate the spirit from the body. As babies, they take them away from their mothers and put them in a tiny cage, big enough only for them to stand but not sit or move around at all. Then they're literally beaten, for days on end, in the most cruel ways possible. The elephant trunk is so sensitive, and it's how they eat and explore the world. But during phajaan, they'll often be encouraged to stick out their trunks to smell or investigate something, but then their trunks are beaten with bats and spears and whips. The elephants are deprived of food, poked with sticks and blades, kicked, and screamed at. They play terrible mind games with them. It's a truly awful, horrible thing. The idea, in the end, is to crush this animal's spirit so much that they are just an empty shell who will listen to every command…and then they are sold to tour operators for elephant rides and treks and the illegal logging industry. Let's see how much we can get this post shared and spread the word with your friends and family…If you know someone going to ‪#‎SoutheastAsia‬ soon, share this with them, too. ‪The individual pictured here with me barely survived Phajaan and the illegal logging industry and now gets to live the rest of her days at @elephantnaturepark . She lives with the permanent damage of leg and hip bone fractures she obtained while being overworked in the past. I've posted about phajaan before and this is for all of my newer followers. #wildlife #saveourelephants #wildvet #wildlifeconservation #conservation #thailand #elephantconservation #elephantnaturepark #asiaticelephant #iloveelephants

A photo posted by Evan Antin ???????????????????????????????????????????? (@dr.evanantin) on

In particular, I’ve donated and tried to bring awareness to certain crocodile foundations. One of my best friends works at San Diego Zoo, and so things involving them are great. Wherever I go, I try to promote animal causes and the local wildlife rehab sanctuaries in that country.

What do you see as the biggest issue in the veterinary industry?

From what I’m gathering, the profession appears to be getting a bit saturated. There’s more and more veterinary schools opening up, and it’s becoming less competitive to get into veterinary school. It’s becoming harder to find a job in some areas. I worry about upcoming vet students—that the field is going to become like the law profession. From what I hear, the law profession is horribly oversaturated. There are too many lawyers and finding work can be really challenging for them. That is one thing the veterinary profession faces.

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Any funny stories? You had a great post on Valentine’s Day about an iguana you treated that was egg-bound.

That developed into a cool story. That iguana was just not passing the eggs like we needed her to. We did some medical management and were semi-successful. We got out five of the seven remaining eggs. We tried a little more medical management, a little more time, but they weren’t evacuated like we needed them to. The next step was surgery. In that case, the best thing to do, unless you’re planning on breeding, is to take out the whole reproductive tract just like a spay in a dog or cat.  It’s not quite that simple of a procedure. The tissues are different, the surgery is different. I’ve done far more dog and cat spays than iguana spays.

 

So I met this gorgeous girl on Valentine's Day, we really hit it off…next thing you know she tells me she's got a belly full of eggs…and they're mine!?? #areptiledysfunction #movestofast #loveatfirstsight #itsnotmine #jerryspringer #alwaysuseprotection Don't worry JK, haha, these are not fertilized eggs. This female iguana was egg bound and needed a little extra help to get her eggs out. Her treatment involved a calcium injection to assist in muscle activation/contraction followed by oxytocin injections which is a hormone that encourages the female reproductive tract to contract. Interestingly, this is a similar strategy sometimes used in human medicine! Happy Valentine's Day everyone ???? #eggbound #iguana #reptilevet #contractions #reptilemedicine #herp #herpvet #vetmed #veterinary #veterinarian #veterinarymedicine #eggs

A photo posted by Evan Antin ???????????????????????????????????????????? (@dr.evanantin) on

The iguana turned out to have a ruptured egg internally, and it ruptured through the reproductive tract. She had egg yolk free-floating in her coelom, and that’s a really serious thing. That can be life-threatening if not addressed surgically. So it was fortunate that we went in there to flush and clean that out, let alone remove the reproductive tract and remaining eggs.

Are you looking forward to anything in the upcoming year?

I got a lot of fun TV appearances to do, which is exciting. I do plan on traveling toward the end of the year. I am going to try to go to Southeast Asia. I’ve been there a few times, but the countries I’m really interested in are some of the islands in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

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