From viral video clips to stunning photos, Michael Holston has evolved from a teenager passionate about animals to a bonafide social media star. The animal educator and conservationist is known by many as The Real Tarzann continues to grow online, pushing the traditional boundaries and visiting all corners of the world to see as many animals as possible up close and personal.
In the world of social media, people are learning about different topics in different ways than ever before. Those who can entertain and teach at the same time see their profile take off compared to the rest. That is a big reason why The Real Tarzann now has well over 6.2 million followers on Instagram. He has a love and passion for exotic animals, but he is never afraid to teach along the way.
It is easy for anyone to be caught up in the shock of any human being swimming right next to a shark or hanging out with deadly snakes. However, beyond the shock value is a lot of simplified education that appeals to the masses. He can teach people about animals without coming off like it is a lecture, and this slightly passive way of learning resonates with many.
Some people have labeled him as a real animal whisperer. Others believe that he is the social media version of Steve Irwin. That comparison flatters Holston, a man who, like many, grew up idolizing the late Australian known as the Crocodile Hunter. He might be quick to dismiss that he is anything close to Irwin at this point, but as his brand grows, is he heading in that direction?
This is a closer look at the story of Mike Holston to this point. From extremely humble beginnings to working with celebrities consistently, the Real Tarzann receives views for his overall authenticity and passion for animals. Social media can change people once they start accumulating a large following, but Holston seems focused on using his fame for good. He hopes to explore more unique spots around the world and raise awareness for causes he is passionate about involving animals.
A passion for animals, born in Miami
Although Michael Holston is not from the Miami area originally, it was South Florida that his passion started to evolve into a career. He was not born into loving or working with exotic animals like many in the industry. He jumped on an opportunity to work at a reptile store when he was a teenager. While working there and learning about reptiles online during his free time, it became apparent that this was a potential career path in some capacity.
He was just a teenager, volunteering and showing overall happiness being around animals, but people around him could see the passion growing.
According to those who knew him at the time, Holston had that same love for animals that he shows in his pictures and videos today. It was never about making money, but instead, a way to learn about not only reptiles but eventually, other animals. He began networking and looking for additional volunteer opportunities around South Florida.
A few years after getting a chance at underground reptiles, he started working with the different organizations in Miami-Dade county. These private zoos allowed him to work hands-on with mammals for the first time. This is when he first started to get into becoming close with more exotic animals that the average person would be afraid even to touch.
Most of his early work with animals all took place in the greater Miami area. To this day, he still calls South Florida home, and his strong connections to the animal community have allowed him to work with many different people and animals. Michael Holston loves the fact that the Everglades are virtually in his backyard, and there are so many kinds of animals in the South Florida area. One of the reasons he was able to gain a big following came down to having so much access to different types of animals without ever having to leave his home area.
Intriguing millions on Instagram, Facebook, and more
Growing on social media involves many different factors that even Holston would admit is a bit out of his control. Providing quality content makes a huge deal, but many creators do precisely that and have yet to take off. What is his secret to success and staying in the limelight?
To begin with, Holston trusted the process instead of trying to force things to happen. One of the most significant pieces of advice for growing in any niche category is to focus on a true passion. Even as a teenager, Michael Holston had a strong love for all animals, hoping to create that special bond. Once he began filming encounters and taking more risks, it started to grow naturally.
The numbers are a little disproportionate for Holston on social media, as he has a relatively low follower count on Twitter compared to some of the other social media platforms. A lot of that has to do with the nature of his content, as it is mostly posting photos and videos for consumption. It is easier to share these on Instagram, YouTube, or Facebook. Instagram is the one platform he first exploded on, and it has led to growth on other channels as well.
Instagram is the perfect blend of surreal photos and short video clips. This is one of the easiest ways for Holston to connect to an audience for the first time, or to continue giving followers the content they want.
A question that any successful person on social media gets asked is how to get to that point of true success. The truth of the matter is, there is no definite answer. That is why it always needs to be a passion above everything else. If it is something that a person enjoys doing, even if they are never making any money off it, it is still worthy of time. When people get into social media for the wrong reasons and want to only make as much money as possible, that is when they usually end up falling short.
One of the reasons why Holston has turned into such a relatable person online is that it is very easy to see his passion come across in his videos and even pictures. In a world where so many people are trying to fake reactions and always look the right way, Holston lets people see him in a very natural state when he is experiencing something new for the first time. That is the authenticity that so many people can instantly relate to when they see it.
Rhinos, snakes, sharks, and more
There seems to be a push from Holston to experience new and exciting animals all the time. These tend to do the best on social media, and he has always had a passion for pushing the boundaries a bit. It is an adrenaline rush for sure, but there is also the aspect of learning about a new species.
His scariest interactions from a viewer’s standpoint have involved working with rhinos, snakes, sharks. Big cats are always fan favorites as well, but Holston has received a lot of praise for how he handles these animals from experts in the field.
Michael Holston’s approach focuses on attempting to gain trust with the animal and not pushing for any reaction early on. There are many animal handlers who focus more on getting the best shot or dictating movement in general when they are touching them. If he does not get the absolute perfect shot that he has in his mind, he goes with what is available to him. It is about learning more with these animals and building trust with them. Pushing the limit and boundaries with animals that can cause serious health issues or even death is not something to mess with by any means.
He usually has to hit the road to discover the deadliest animals, but there are plenty of exciting interactions at home as well. Between snakes and reptiles at home to his collection of dogs, many people love the interactions at home just as much as on the road. It is a way for him to show a different side to his followers, while also interacting with animals he has gained a lot of trust with throughout the years.
Some get into the animal handling business without the right focus in the beginning. Instead of genuinely being interested in learning about animals and bonding with them during that time, they are looking for the flashiest photo or video to send out. Holston has never focused solely on that, and that has helped him grow his career. When other people in the industry see this, they are more willing to work with him.
Making animal education fun
No one enjoys long, boring education of any variety. There is no better way to learn with animals than with visuals and keeping information short and concise. Holston has received a lot of praise over the years for making animal education a little more enjoyable, which is perfect for viewers of any age.
A lot of the content is very user-friendly for any age group, which is perfect for parents who have children very intrigued about different types of animals. They were able to watch his videos and view his pictures to get an up-close look without ever having to leave home. He is always very diligent about informing his audience about that specific species, and some interesting facts that they bring to the table.
Education goes beyond what he talks about on camera. Now that he is getting the opportunity to meet and interact with more and more exotic animals in the wild, he is spending extra time educating himself so that he is fully prepared and safe with every encounter. It takes a lot of work behind the scenes not only for Holston but for his entire team as they discover new opportunities.
Holston keeps a lot of his content very short and concise, which is perfect for the social media world. Instead of having to watch a boring lecture or hours of information on animals, he can give his viewers just the right amount of information that they are looking for.
Working with non-profit organizations and building schools
The animal world is very reliant on numerous non-profit organizations helping out in one way or another. When Holston comes across these organizations that might need help, he is quick to assist in different ways. Not only will he donate his own time and money to some of these organizations, but he will continue to spread awareness online by reaching out to his following as well.
Some of these non-profits focus on animals’ well-being, stopping animal abuse, and other passionate topics he is always paying attention to. There are other situations where people are actually building schools and helping fund animal education for different age groups. Holston believes that he is getting a chance to help out in many different ways with these various organizations, which is allowing him to use his platform in different ways.
The first step in helping non-profit organizations for Holston is to visit them to get a better sense of what they are about. After that, he is eager to help out and interact with the animals they are in charge of as an organization. For organizations fighting against animal abuse, he has been instrumental in helping find additional people sharing that same passion locally. A strong push locally is one of the best ways to see results.
Holston understands that he can’t donate unlimited funds to every organization, and he does not expect followers to either. What he does is share information that he finds interesting with his followers, and they can make a decision themselves on whether or not they want to go down that route. In just a short time that he has been in the limelight, he has raised millions of dollars for different organizations around the globe. This is something Holston never imagined before starting down the social media path.
Keeping Miami beautiful with Miami beach cleanup
Another way that Holston has used his internet celebrity for the greater good is to focus on cleanup opportunities in the city he calls home.
He has been able to turn a Miami Beach cleanup day into an event that brings in locals willing to lend a helping hand. Not only do locals help, but other celebrities have joined forces with him as well. By combining forces and bringing in new followers, the last few cleanup events put on by Holston have made a great impact on the area.
While The Real Tarzann does deserve some credit for organizing cleanups, he was first inspired by the idea when a teenager received recognition back in the spring of 2019. While on spring break and visiting Miami Beach, he was spending time picking up trash. The Miami Beach Police Department first noticed his good deed, but it then came to the attention of others. As a local, he saw it as a great way to expand the idea and help out even more.
Since then, Holston has taken on a leadership role in making future clean up opportunities easily accessible. Some people come in from all over South Florida, and even other parts of the world to help out for these events. He has also been able to convince other social media celebrities, and he hopes to turn it into a massive city event on occasion.
The cleanups are designed to keep humans and animals safer, while also making the entire metro Miami area beautiful. His cleanups have grown beyond Miami Beach, focusing on other problematic areas in South Florida in need of the right amount of attention to turn things around.
Why Holston cares so much about education and schools
Holston will be the first to admit that he went about his career in an unconventional way. Unlike other animal experts and conservationists, he received no formal education in the field. Instead, he took a hands-on approach from very humble beginnings and learning from experts in the area along the way.
One might assume that education might not matter as much to someone who went this route, but it could not be further from the truth. The Real Tarzann is a huge advocate for education not only with animals but any passion in life a person ends up pursuing. He is a living example of taking a passion and making a career, and he is hoping that he can begin to inspire others to stress education over everything. That means conventional and unconventional education methods.
Working closely with deadly animals requires a significant amount of knowledge more than just about any other profession. Without it, a person is risking their life only by getting close to an animal. There is a certain level of confidence animal handlers need, but education plays a crucial role as well. From understanding how to approach animals to knowing what to do if they attack, Holston has spent a lot of time thoroughly researching every animal he directly works with for the best protection.
Charity work encouraging educational opportunities for younger children interested in animals is something that he takes very seriously. He also takes time out of his life to volunteer time and energy to give different presentations for the next generation involving animals. It is something he has been doing since he was still in school himself, and spreading the love of animals, in general, is a huge passion of his.
Michael Holston understands that what he does is different from the norm, and there may never be anyone who visits his presentations and ultimately goes down the exotic animal handler route. With that said, it is a way to get people involved and intrigued by animals in general. Even being just a little more confident around regular household pets and reading signals in that regard can pay huge dividends. After all, one significant fact that Holston likes to tell children is that he has over 20 pet dogs at home waiting for him at the end of each day. He might work with exotic animals often, but he still likes to go home and enjoy time with a more standard type of pet.
How an Instagram feed has helped raised millions
Amassing a large following on social media opens up plenty of opportunities. It is up for each individual to make proper decisions and use their platform the right way instead of giving up golden opportunities. For Holston, one way he has used his following is to help raise money for certain causes throughout the years.
Animal conservation costs money, and there is not enough to go around with specific organizations. Holston does not ask for money directly, but he has helped campaigns reach specific goals financially. By endorsing an organization and posting the link to donate, he has helped raise a lot of money for different causes.
It is easy to see how a platform like this could go through abuse if in the wrong hands. A lot of companies and organizations are looking to exploit their followers and come up with some deal that will benefit them. Holston takes a lot of time researching every single organization or company that approaches him. This is one of the best ways for him to ensure that he is not blindly endorsing anything that might not be what he stands for.
Michael Holston hopes to stay involved in additional fundraisers not only in South Florida, but globally as well. Animals require assistance in one way or another in all corners of the globe, and there could be severe ramifications if action lags behind for any reason. It could be animals facing extinction, or animals losing their living environment. Even if just a small fraction of his followers give a little bit of money, it makes a huge difference for some smaller organizations.
He encourages people to do their research if they are unsure about giving money initially. He understands that is a huge leap for anyone to give money blindly just because someone they know posted a link online. He likes to share the stories behind each charity and organization he works with so that people know the entire story. It is sometimes hard to give all the information across in a social media-friendly format, but there are always links to learn.
Combining a love for animals and fitness
Keeping up with animals of all sizes is certainly a physical task. Holston has described plenty of encounters and attacks from animals over the years, and he has the scars to prove it. To help keep up with the physical nature of handling animals all the time, he has embraced fitness as something he is very passionate about every single day.
Even during the early days as his social media channels grew, people were quick to comment about his physique. After all, someone who goes by The Real Tarzann must live up to expectations as far as strength and physique are concerned. He has started sharing workout routines, diets, and other tips to help stay in shape for the average person. No one is living the lifestyle of him and interacting with animals to that degree, but staying physically healthy and getting in great shape is another way for Michael Holston to inspire others.
He is still pretty young, which helps him bounce back from a tough day at the office handling exotic pets. There are times when he deals with tough falls, crashes, and sprints. On occasion, even a bite or a swing might occur. With that said, he is someone who understands that he will need to focus more and more on staying in great shape as he ages. The last thing he wants to do is feel forced to slow down a bit, as he wants to continue pursuing his passion for years to come.
He has even gone as far as bringing on people in the fitness industry to help him with certain workouts and other tips to stay in great shape. These crossover collaborations help out both channels and introduce each other to new audiences.
The final key to staying in shape is to keep active in some capacity. Not everyone will be dealing with exotic animals, but there are plenty of ways to stay active even with a desk job.
Why The Real Tarzann became set on offering sustainable merchandise Through Wyld Ones
Sustainability is something that has always been on the mind of Holston, and that is why he spent time making sure that his new line of merchandise would live up to expectations. Available through the website wyldones.com, Holston offers a variety of merchandise that allows people to feel confident that they are buying something safe for the environment.
Inventory changes from time to time, but Holston is always adding new looks and designs for his fans. Most of the looks are relatively simple, using just “Wyld” as the brand logo. It is not only a relatively simple design but the overall aesthetic of the merchandise, in general, is to stay relatively low-key.
In many videos, Holston wears his merchandise to help with advertising a bit. One relatively new piece that has grown in the last few months is the leopard mask for the face. When the COVID-19 outbreak started to consume the entire country, this became the option of choice for The Real Tarzann. Fans wanted to get their hands on this unique look, and now they can.
New merch drops are advertised on social media through a few different channels, so those interested should stay tuned to jump on any release. Some of the more popular items sell out fairly quickly, which is why it is so important to be locked in and one of the first to know.
Since going with sustainable merchandise, others have followed his lead in different ways. It is pretty interesting to see how much people are paying attention to the health of the environment. Making a simple change with the way merchandise is created can be part of a bigger picture. It is something that Holston hopes is only going to go up from here. There are merchandise companies that celebrities can work with that help keep the cost relatively low as well. This means that you were stuck paying a lot of extra money to be responsible about the environment.
What is next for The Real Tarzann?
Whether it is visiting new exotic locations or upgrading production value, it is clear that The Real Tarzann is continuing to grow as a very prominent animal educator online. Millions of people view his photos and watch his videos, and celebrities can’t seem to get enough of him. The Real Tarzann has quickly turned into one of the most famous animal handlers in the world, and he might just be scratching the surface.
Michael Holston has huge dreams about where he sees his online persona in the next few years. There are still plenty of locations he has not been able to visit at this point, and he is always looking to work with new organizations as well.
It seems like Holston has the passion and the drive to continue down this road and see where life takes them. Ask the man they call The Real Tarzann about comparisons to Steve Irwin, and he still feels like it is a bit of an exaggeration. With the rapid growth and attention he receives online, that comparison might just end up being more real than anyone but possible. Not bad for someone who simply embraced his passion for animals and started the entire journey from the humblest of beginnings.