Danny Mendez and UrbanJunglesRadio
We were fortunate enough to recently speak to an amazing individual and animal love, Danny Mendez. Danny and UrbanJunglesRadio are taking animal welfare and love into the 21st century.
Would you care to introduce yourself?
Absolutely! My name is Danny Mendez and I’m your friendly neighborhood Beastmaster and host of UrbanJunglesRadio. It’s my Zoo-Centric Podcast which is pretty friggin’ awesome if I do say so myself.
What drew you towards the world of beast-mastery?
It was the love for animals as a bored city kid that developed into a passion and soon an obsession. I noticed things growing up in the city that most people didn’t’ see with regards to wildlife which gave a huge appreciation for all things furry, feathery, slimy, scaly, hairy, leathery and wet. I was soon working at some of the most amazing zoos in the New York City area including The Bronx Zoo and Turtleback Zoo as a zookeeper and later a zoologist and collection manager for a living collection at a museum in NJ. After almost two decades of work in the zoo world, I have been blessed enough to work with and understand so many wonderful creatures that I have become a proper Beastmaster in my travels. This proved helpful in the podcasting world where it really pays to know what the hell you are actually talking about. Then you can have the freedom to be ridiculous, but deep down people know you might actually know what you’re talking about in some insane way.
What sort of beasts do you have?
Ohhh, personally….?!? Don’t get me started. I mostly keep reptiles and invertebrates at home but I also have some Amphibians and the typical feathery and furry stuff about the house. I love arboreal snakes and have a very small but loved collection of them as well as a plethora of tarantulas. That’s right…I love tarantulas so much and in so many different ways it’s probably illegal in some states. Except Utah. As I said earlier, I have been lucky enough to world with everything from Elephants to ants so I don’t feel the need to keep a lot of animals. I’m only at about 50 spiders. (I adore arachnids. What do you have? -Ed)
What’s the rarest beast you’ve ever dealt with?
Well at the Bronx Zoo, they specialize in the conservation of various rare species so I got to play with some cool, rare animals even by zoo standards. I once got to work with African Okapis (Google them) and on my first day tried to kiss a baby on the lips. That’s when I learned they have unusually long tongues used for stripping leaves, and almost choked as this infant (at about 1.5 m tall) made me deep throat her tongue. It was exhilarating! (Bronx Zoo! Yes, he’s all American. -Ed)
What is the most indispensable item for a beast-master?
Nun-chucks. (aka, Penguin-Sticks. -Ed)
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Gaining 300 lbs and wearing large man-dresses and thick gold chains. I plan to really not give a shit and just be a rockstar as I cruse in my tricked out motorized scooter down the isles of WalMart yelling “Murica”!
Any advice for people wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Well, firstly don’t follow my footsteps…create your own. Feel free to follow my path but don’t stay on it long, blaze your own trail. It’s seriously important to take a chance on something you really believe in and keep working at it no matter how crazy people think you are. It’s possible to do something you’re passionate about for a living, but it takes risks and a really unwavering love for what you do. But once you get there, there’s no better feeling that knowing you can explore your passions and creativity and actually still live like a person, (ie, make money). Don’t fall into the corporate traps, we are not meant to live our lives in cubicles dammit.
Find someone you REALLY enjoy making love to and don’t stop until you can’t anymore. It’s important to have extra fuel added to your passions.
What can you tell us about Urban Jungles Radio?
UJR is a Zoo-Centric Podcast which basically explores interesting topics and discussions about the animal world from pets to wildlife conservation. We deliver it in a really fun way which is key to everything and totally good around with skits, prank calls, song parodies…the usual goofy podcast shit but we are sort of smart too. At least in that we don’t bullshit our audience.
What inspired you to create Urban Jungles Radio?
Initially unemployment. During the financial crisis of ’08 Iost my job at the museum after almost a decade. I was gutted and wanted to not sit idly as I searched for the next step in my career and realized I could share my knowledge and sick sense of humor with the world pretty easily given the current technology. The playing field was leveled in a sense in that what previously would require a broadcast studio, and expensive equipment and licensing could now be done for nothing, from home. So I was on it. This was before podcasting was really a “thing”. UrbanJunglesRadio has been going strong since 2010.
In fewer than 100 words would you explain to the world what Urban Jungles Radio, does?
Inspire, motivate, educate, instigate, and broadcast to the world. We like to share interviews and stories about wonderful projects and people working with animals, from movie stars to neighbors. We especially like to fight for the underdogs and organize fundraisers and awareness campaigns for little known, but important issues like the mass poaching of Pangolins from Africa to Asia. (No one is poaching our Metal Pangolin! -Ed)
Now you’ve run a number of campaigns over the years.
-Which has been your most successful?
Definitely raising awareness for Rattlesnake roundups which are a barbaric practice here in the United States where tens of thousands of rattlesnakes are collected over the course of a year and slaughtered at public festivals where attendees are often encouraged to participate in the “festivities”. These include killing, skinning, and even eating the snakes which are native reptiles and a vital part of our ecosystem.
-What campaign are you running at present?
We are definitely pushing hard for the awareness of Canned Hunting, another terrible practice involving rich big game hunters who pay absurd amounts of money to shoot rare animals that are actually released in enclosures and used to humans. It takes literally no skill and is a disgusting practice.
What can you tell us about ‘Slammin4Snakes’?
Heh, that’s one of the fundraisers we organized at the North American Reptile Breeder’s Conference in Chicago. We basically let people put on headgear and jump on raised pedestals before beating the shit out of one another with large padded pugil sticks that look like oversized cotton swabs.
-How did it start?
When we attend various shows we like to come up with ideas that will not only raise awareness but funds for worthwhile organizations but most importantly…are fun! Slammin4Snakes was actually the evolution from “Sumo4Snakes” where participants donned enormous inflatable Sumo Suits before pummeling themselves.
-How’s it going thus far?
It’s wildly popular and over the years have raised a few thousand dollars. So far most injuries are minor, and like any good fight club, rarely spoken of. We’ll resume with the next chapter this October at NARBC Chicago!
What can the public do to help you?
Well, start by following UrbanJunglesRadio on Facebook and @UJRadio on twitter to keep up with our campaigns. We don’t often start call to actions, but when we do they are important.
Now I see you’ve got some international correspondents. How does one join their ranks?
You mean like Emma Lock in London? First off…you have to be hot. (She is that. She’s also kind, caring and crazy. Which explains why I like her. She just doesn’t eat enough cake. -Ed)
Yes, just don’t be blind to what’s happening to our planet and the creatures that live on it. They are trying to tell us something’s wrong because we all share the same home, an organic spaceship hurdling through space. So, forget about what’s on TV tonight, learn something about your environment and what you can do to make it a better place for everyone. Also, be sure to check out our Youtube Page and Facebook and listen to UrbanJunglesRadio.
Also…don’t be a jerk.