Jeff Corwin talks creatures at Stark campus

Morgan Day

Jeff Corwin entertains a full house at the Stark campus as he tells stories about his past and how he became famous. DAVID ANTHONY RANUCCI | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

Whoever thinks a snake bite would spark a love for animals must have a pretty firm belief in the concept of pain equals love.

Jeff Corwin, on the other hand, doesn’t find it odd at all.

Corwin, host and executive producer of the Animal Planet’s “The Jeff Corwin Experience” and “Corwin’s Quest,” spoke to 800 people last night as part of the Featured Speaker Series at the Stark campus.

He said his fascination with animals began at the age of six when he discovered a garter snake at his grandparents’ house — the only place he got to experience wildlife because his family lived in the city.

“I just instinctively reached out and grabbed (the snake), and it instinctively reached out and grabbed onto me,” he said.

Corwin rushed into the house with the snake latched onto his bloody forearm. His frantic grandmother protested that he take the snake outside.

He learned so much from that snake, he said, like life and reproduction, among other things.

“I learned about eating,” Corwin said, adding to the list. “I wasn’t the only one to regurgitate food if I didn’t like it.”

Although his favorite animals are bats and snakes, Corwin’s fondness for elephants was evident during his speech. Audience members watched the large projection screen as a curious elephant violated Corwin’s personal space by exploring the zipper of his pants.

“I said I’ll give you peanuts,” he said, backing away.

In South Africa, a place where elephants have an especially uncertain future, he discovered his crew was about to be charged by an elephant.

“I’m like four seconds away from having to change my underwear,” he said.

He tried to convince his television crew not to run from the elephant. When he turned around to find them, they had already begun racing through the jungle. They learned their lesson, he said, when the elephant began closing in on them and not him.

“That’s why you don’t run from elephants,” Corwin said.

Corwin also touched on the growing number of species becoming extinct and urged the audience to become active in conservation.

Judi Steiner and Pat Tabor of Canal Fulton said they enjoy Animal Planet and love Corwin’s demeanor, persona and humor.

However, it’s the animals that keep them tuned in to the TV station.

Jennifer and Joe Daleiden of Canton said they enjoyed Corwin’s spontaneity. The couple just returned from two and a half years of traveling overseas and were excited to see Corwin in person instead of on screen.

“He’s got our dream job,” Joe said.

Contact regional south campus reporter Morgan Day at [email protected].