Nick Jacinto, who is now known as “Nature Nick,” has loved animals all his life. From the time he was a boy growing up amid the Pine Barrens of New York, Nick was fascinated by turtles and birds and other creatures that were native to New York. Nick’s interest in animals only increased as he grew and he subsequently college earned degrees and federal licenses that enable him to work with animals on a daily basis.
The founder of “Nature Nick’s Animal Adventures,” Nick hosts his fast-paced educational wildlife show for live audiences. Geared towards children but enjoyable for animal lovers of all ages, Nick’s shows are informative and feature a huge array of creatures including snakes, eagles, alligators, turtles, foxes, armadillos, and even a Chilean flamingo! His live shows end with a meet-and-greet segment where audience members can interact and have their photos taken with Nick and the animals.
Nick has presented his animals on TV as well as on stage, at fairs, and via private parties. He has written books about animals and trains creatures to be comfortable interacting with humans. Nature Nick and his animals have been featured on A-list programs including The Martha Stewart Show, Fox & Friends, Good Day New York, Good Morning America, and The Today Show! Nick is currently headquartered in New York but he also has a satellite location in Southern Florida so he can easily accommodate most venues throughout the country. He recently granted an exclusive interview where he discussed his incredible career and hopes for the future.
Meagan Meehan (MM): You’ve been into animals since you were young but when did you decide to work with them full time?
Nick Jacinto (NJ): I formed my animal business while still in college as a side hobby. I really wanted to be an elementary school teacher but when I graduated from my undergrad program in 2009 it became impossible to find a full-time teaching position anywhere in New York State. I was forced out of necessity to peruse my animal business full-time.
MM: You have degrees in education and are licensed. So, what came first, the degree or the licensing and which was a tougher process?
NJ: I attained my USDA license to exhibit animals while I was a sophomore in college. That license was soon followed by several DEC Licenses (Department of Environmental Conservation) too possess various wild animals. My New York State teaching license came after I graduated several years later. Both are challenging in their own way. The licenses to perform shows with animals is more about patience and dealing with tedious paperwork. Teaching licenses on the other hand deal more with your academic prowess.
MM: What prompted you to establish “Nature Nick” and was it originally intended to be only a live show?
NJ: You are going to laugh at my response, but I have and will always be a big “Judge Judy” fan. I have been watching her show every day for the past 20 years; since I was a little boy. I think the alliteration in the show’s title has played a big part in that program’s success. When it was time to name my business, I knew I needed something with alliteration and a word that incorporated animals. before I knew it “Nature Nick” was born. It was always intended to be only a live show.
MM: How did you move into television?
NJ: Long Island’s proximity to Manhattan is one reason why I frequently supply animals for TV. Another is that the world of live TV moves at a lightening pace. TV producers will have an idea for a 6:00 AM TV segment at 11:00PM the night before. If you’re the person that can make their concept or idea a reality then you’re hired. By checking my emails and text messages constantly I have inevitably become the “go to animal guy” for many New York-based TV show producers.
MM: You’ve now been featured on major TV shows and provide animals for entertainment projects, so what have been some of the coolest experiences your career has offered you?
NJ: My favorite memory of working on TV was a segment I did with my mentor, Marc Morrone, who taught me everything I know about animals. He was kind enough to invite me to appear on “Martha Stewart” with him when I was 12 years-old. The segment was such a success that 10 years later the show’s producers reached out to me when I was 22 for a “follow up” segment to see how my animals and I were doing.
MM: You’ll be at the Long Island Parrot Expo on October 5, so what can audiences expect to see at your show?
NJ: Audiences can expect a fun fast-paced show with many exotic animals. I typically bring more animals than any other animal exhibitor, each one of my shows features 9-12 animals such as alligators, toucans, hedgehogs, raptors, and the country’s only traveling flamingo!
MM: What do you think the average person can do to coexist with animals positively?
NJ: Something I learned from my mentor, Marc Morrone, is to always look at things from an animals’ point of view. If a raccoon is taking from your trash, he is simply looking for an easy meal. He isn’t inconveniencing you to be spiteful or to “show how smart he is” Instead of getting angry and setting lethal traps on your property, simply put your trash in a more secure can and the raccoon will move on to another yard. Animals are being forced out of their habitats every day. If there are a few species that are making the most of it and trying to adapt to our presence, don’t persecute them for just trying to survive.
MM: How do you hope your show continues to evolve over the next five years? For instance, are there any animals you don’t work with now but would like to in the future?
NJ: I am actually at a point where I am starting to slow down. In my twenties I worked my tail off. I worked with everything under the sun: tarantulas, anacondas, crocodiles, lions, tigers, bears, wolves, kinkajous, hawks, owls, monkeys, kangaroos, lemurs and everything in between! Now that I am in my thirties and married with a baby, I am starting to pursue ways that I can spend more time with my wife and daughter. When I was younger, I would seek out animals that were very “exotic” or “cool” or “different” I didn’t care how difficult it was to take care of them, I would just make it work. At this stage in my life, I find myself seeking out animals that are not necessarily “exotic” or “different” but animals that do extremely well in captivity such as my raptors and small reptiles.
MM: Do you have any events or projects coming up or anything else that you would like to discuss?
NJ: I have some big TV projects coming up that I would love to discuss but due to Nondisclosure agreements I can’t! However, they will be airing on TV very soon!
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To learn more, visit Nick’s official website.