Who Is Michael Holston aka “The Real Tarzann” And How He Became An Animal Advocate
It Is Hard To Settle On An Exact Professional Title For What Mike Holston Does Online.
Some people label him as a modern-day animal whisperer, capable of communicating and interacting with exotic breeds better than almost anyone else in the world. Others see him as a social media star with a strong passion for animal conservation. Some people might just think of him as a huge risk taker as a friend sends them a link to a video of him swimming with sharks.
No matter what label a person puts on Holston, they probably do not know him by that name. However, the online persona “The Real Tarzann” is something that resonates with a lot more people. The mid-20s Miami, Florida-based man has turned his passion into building schools and educating the public into a full-time career. There is no telling where he might be next, from celebrity collaborations to exploring remote parts of rural Australia while working on Miami Beach cleanup projects.
Holston now travels quite a bit as he is invited to explore new opportunities, but there are also plenty of interesting animals to interact within South Florida as well. In the last few years, most people have indirectly come across Mike Holston, also known as The Real Tarzann online. Countless video clips have gone viral, and he is continuously shared on Instagram because he takes pictures that seem too good to be true.
He has amassed over 6.2 million followers on Instagram, and 750,000+ subscribers on YouTube to this point. With up-close encounters involving all sorts of animals and a focus on wildlife conservation in general, The Real Tarzann has created one of the most exciting feeds online. What is the story behind Holston and this unique path in life?
A Love For Miami
Most people have some strong connection to where they grew up. Holston is no different, as he continues to call the Miami area home even with his rise to fame. He contemplated moving to California but ultimately decided to put roots down in South Florida and continue working with many of the organizations he has built a strong connection with over the years.
Holston treats Miami like his hometown in a lot of ways, but he did not move down to South Florida until he was a teenager with his mother. It was at this time that he was able to make connections in the animal world, first starting as a volunteer at a local pet store. Without receiving any pay and even spending some nights sleeping in a car, he made it work by pursuing a passion born in South Florida. It was there that he started to fall in love with many different types of animals, and he was able to parlay that experience into many other opportunities in the South Florida area.
Miami has a unique climate that makes it a little different from anywhere else in the United States. Some species can only survive in a climate like South Florida, and the Everglades alone offer a bit of a playground for someone like Holston. There is no place like Miami in the world, and Holston has stated in videos how much he loves his adopted home.
Holston has worked with many different animal organizations in the South Florida area, and he has helped out with charities on occasion as well. Now that he has established roots in the area, He believes that he can continue helping different organizations in the area with his platform. By reaching out to his millions of followers on Instagram, money can be raised for certain causes, and overall awareness can be heightened when necessary.
Becoming An Instagram Star
Just a few years ago, no one could have imagined the type of celebrity status one could achieve simply based off of social media. What began as a hobby and a way to share interesting pictures with friends and family evolved into an online persona that has taken on a life of its own. Michael Holston feels very fortunate to be in a situation and understands that it comes with new responsibilities as well.
Holston has experienced pretty steady growth over the last few years, with national recognition coming in around 2018. For one example, he was interviewed by WSVN-7 in January 2018 for helping rescue iguanas from freezing temperatures in the Miami area. This became a bit of a viral hit, which only benefitted Holston more in the long run.
He was already making posts on social media at the time, but it was mostly limited to that. Connections with celebrities and other traditional media outlets have helped to grow his following even more, and a few stories or posts ended up spiking his follower numbers a bit. A lot of what he posts is very easy to share, and once people see the variety of his content, they are quick to follow or subscribe.
With a following as large as his social media accounts have, Holston now gets scrutinized on every move he makes. Every single post receives plenty of positive comments from his legion of followers. Still, following rules and restrictions and keeping the animals’ best interests in mind at all times is crucial. One misstep can cause severe backlash that no one wants to deal with at any point in time.
Holston’s growth has made it so that he can surround himself with a team that ensures that he is doing all of his new interactions with animals the right way. A lot more work and preparation goes into the actual setup for animal encounters, but the final results are authentic. After all, there is not a known way to get wild animals to react in a certain way since the cameras are on. All he can do is follow proper procedures with a setup process to ensure safety for him and the animals.
Instagram remains the driving force for all of his other platforms. The majority of people initially discover him on Instagram, and that is where he has amassed a following that at times looks like a who’ s-who of celebrities. Whether it is working with DJ Khaled or Will Smith, he has evolved into one of the most well-known animal handlers in the world.
Dealing With Life As A Social Media Celebrity
A lot of people could only dream of having a following as large as The Real Tarzann. It seems like he has the opportunity to go places that a few others can, and he gets to make a living doing what he thoroughly enjoys. With all that said, dealing with being a social media celeb is not always as glamorous as it might sound.
What many do not realize is all the behind-the-scenes work that is necessary to produce even one set of photos or a short video clip to post on social media. As his fame continues to grow, the demand for quality content will only increase. He can’t get away with making the same videos or posting the same pictures as when he first started, or his following will not react positively.
Holston’s primary focus is making sure that the animals he does work with are in a safe environment at all times. There have been countless animal handlers and zookeepers in the past who have faced severe backlash for not handling certain animals properly. Education is a huge part of the behind-the-scenes process for Holston, and 100% necessary for him to have success in this field.
Traveling and overall set up is also very time-consuming for Holston as he evolves as a content creator. Finding new places to shoot and new animals to interact with can be a challenge for someone who has been established for quite a while. There is a constant hunt to find something engaging and exciting that has not been done already.
Part of growing a fanbase on social media is being recognized, but that does not necessarily benefit Holston in every situation. For example, if he is in the middle of working with animals in a public location and is spotted by fans, their commotion could potentially spook the animal and cause a negative reaction. A lot of the work he does allows him to be separated from fans who might inadvertently cause an issue, but it is something that he must keep in mind.
Despite all the negatives, Holston believes that he is in a very fortunate situation to be working with animals and making money doing exactly that. There will always be some negative aspects of social media, but without it, he would not have nearly the following for his current line of work.
Why Animal Education Matters To Holston
A large following requires being more than just an entertainer. This is especially true when dealing with animals that the vast majority of people know very little about. Education is the key to growing the platform and overall interest.
One of the biggest reasons why Holston is so focused on animal education is that he remains inspired by the late Steve Irwin. This was a man who captured attention around the world because he was willing to take risks and do so in an entertaining way. Once people looked past the crazier side of him, they were able to learn about different animals and general conservation that they were not finding anywhere else. He inspired many who work with animals in many different capacities, with Holston labeling him as the greatest to ever do it.
Beyond the flashier side of social media, Holston has a strong background in education with different types of animals. He has served as a manager at an exotic reptile farm, and as a zookeeper at an organization in Miami, Florida. This is where he learned how to deal with some of the most dangerous wildlife animals in the world, such as tigers, cougars, and lemurs. His confidence around animals started growing, and what he found is that he wanted to fully dive into this field.
There is a balancing act all the time between trying to keep the audience entertained, and also educate. It is something that everyone in this industry takes time creating, but when it happens, it is beautiful to see. Holston understands that he still has work to do to be on the same level as others who have been doing it for decades, but the focus is always on education about everything else.
As he becomes more seasoned, Holston is also more upfront with the other side that is not always captured on camera. Learning to interact with animals and gain their trust takes a lot of time and patience, and many risks go into the entire process. This is very helpful for the aspiring younger generation who might be wanting to be like him later on and only see the flashier side of things that make it appear effortless.
Many can begin to see the evolution of his content online. Early work was more about capturing an audience’s attention, and now he has more educational insight than ever before. As his platforms grow, look for that to continue, as people begin to look at everything he brings to the table.
International Travel, From Brazil To Bora-Bora
Becoming an online celebrity has its perks, and one way Holston’s content has changed over the years is filming in different locations. Whether it is collaborating with other people or organizations, or spending his own money to visit unique sites, he has been able to go places he never thought possible in the past.
Some of the more highly viewed and rated locations he has shot in include Bora-Bora, Brazil, Mexico, Costa Rica, and more. He has been able to go to faraway places like Australia and Africa as well, which has notably taken himself out of his comfort zone a bit, but still acted as a learning experience along the way.
When a celebrity starts to grow, it is tougher to continue keeping the attention of viewers without exploring new locations. Most of his original content was filmed locally, but he has been able to explore different adventures by linking up with those he has met over the years.
Holston even goes as far as asking viewers for suggestions on where to visit next. It seems like his ultimate goal is to see virtually every corner of the globe and interact with as many unique animals as possible. With as strong of the following as he has, gaining access is something that is becoming a little easier for him overall. It also allows him to work with people who are very familiar with animals he might be interacting with for the first time. This increases his safety and enables him to take a few more risks while also educating viewers.
There is a major benefit for Holston in that he lives in an area with plenty of access to exotic animals. The South Florida area has plenty of opportunities to explore in the Everglades alone, but there are also local zoos, conservations, and more for Holston to explore. Sometimes one of the best adventures for him can be just down the road, as there are still people he hopes to connect within the South Florida area. It is a small group of people who are really into handling animals and promoting education, but collaborations are still in the works.
Handling Everything From Dogs To Feared Animals Like Sharks, Rhinos, And More
Does The Real Tarzann have a favorite animal? Many can probably guess that he has a strong passion for his collection of dogs that is now over 20, but he has posted pictures and videos with just about any animal out there. As one might expect, the animals that capture the most views online are the most exotic and/or feared in the animal kingdom.
He has gained a lot of notoriety for being around sharks, rhinos, tigers, and other deadly animals. While he is fine interacting with tamer animals as well, there is no doubt that his viewers enjoy seeing the risk involved with the animals usually not spending time with humans. For the vast majority of people, they never see these animals in the wild in the first place, let alone get up close and personal with them.
Holston understands that there is a fine line that he must walk between providing entertainment and not exploiting animal previews. Doing that would distract viewers from his ultimate goal, which is to provide education on animals that most people do not know much about. Getting to view an up-close and personal encounter, even in a video form with someone else, makes a big difference. When viewers see these pictures and videos, they are initially shocked, but then he can provide additional information to allow people to leave with knowledge.
A lot of discussions online have centered around just how much of a risk Michael Holston takes every time he is with a deadly animal. A lot of his work these days is very centered around keeping animals in their natural environment and allowing them to go away freely if they wish. There are animal handlers out there who are more worried about getting the best shot than the overall health of an animal, and that is not helpful in the long run. Holston wants to make sure they are comfortable, which keeps him more comfortable.
If there is ever a time Holston can’t get the right look or angle for an encounter, he looks in a different direction. There are more important things to life than getting the perfect shot for one of these encounters, and it is not worth the risk in the end. He also does not want to risk upsetting the animals. Most viewers would rather see a few failed attempts to get a perfect shot, rather than any person forcing an animal in the wild to act a certain way.
A Special Love For Sharks
There has always been something particularly intriguing about sharks to people. That is no different for Michael Holston, who has a special place in his heart for these animals found in the ocean. While he does do more videos on land than on sea, there are quite a few interactions found online between Holston and these intriguing animals.
In a recent video to line up with Shark Week, he posted “Swimming with the world’s largest shark” on YouTube. This was a unique experience made available to Holston, and one that visibly blew his mind when he first approached one.
The whale shark is not the first species of shark Holston has interacted with, but it is a great example of just how passionate he is about educating viewers while offering a unique opportunity. People have the chance to experience visits with animals for the first time like him, and his ability to make viewers feel so connected is a main contributor to his massive following.
Extreme care is used at all times when dealing with sharks, as Holston wants to make sure that he protects himself from mishaps as much as possible. In his latest visit, it is clear just how many safety features he has in place to ensure that the video goes smoothly. He is always taking a calculated risk, but additional funds have allowed him to step up the safety part of his job.
Sharks are easy to identify, but there is still so much unknown about sharks in general. In every video and series of pictures of sharks, hosting is quick to provide quality education for viewers as well. They are often mislabeled and viewed in a light that can spread falsehoods on how they are in the wild. Seeing their beauty of clothes and filming in high-quality allows every viewer to get closer than they usually would in any other scenario.
Michael Holston does not follow any set schedule, but he usually posts a few times a year on sharks. There are many different species out there that he has plenty of other opportunities to explore down the road. Every time he posts something shark-related, it gets a bit more interaction than the average post.
A Passion For Fitness As Well
Animals might be the passion that has turned Michael Holston into a Facebook and Instagram celebrity, but it is not his only passion by any means. The more people learn about the man behind The Real Tarzann label, the more interesting he becomes. For example, his passion for fitness is pretty apparent just by looking at his physique, but he has started to share some tips in that regard as well.
There is a huge market for staying in shape and looking great in the social media era. Not only are millions of people looking to stay healthy and feel better about themselves, but it serves a specific purpose for Holston himself to be in outstanding shape for his job.
At times, he is dealing with animals that are big and strong. It is easy for them to push him around if he is not up to the task. He has always been in great shape ever since he emerged on social media, but he has taken it to the next level by focusing more on training and eating healthy.
On his YouTube channel, there is workout content occasionally posted that shows how he gets his physique. He focuses on not taking any days off in the gym, and learning how to eat with portion control. Since he follows a workout schedule that is extremely similar to others in the industry, a lot of what he does might look familiar.
A lot of his specific workouts are very similar to training for football since he is a former player who focused on adding bulk and getting bigger in general when he was younger. At the same time, he has incorporated more stretching and flexibility in his workouts so that he can move quickly in different scenarios for work. There is even a training video that focuses on sprints and longer runs.
Some people are hoping that he continues to dedicate time to post about fitness and diet, as well as animal conservation. Not everyone is coming to his channel to view both of these topics, which is why a second channel might be the best bet overall. That way, he can go a bit more in-depth with the fitness and diet aspect without losing any followers.
The body is part of The Real Tarzann persona, and helps him stand out in a crowd as a content creator. He is extremely dedicated to crafting his body the right way.
Sustainable Merchandise People Can Support
Any person who has a brand online pretty much needs some type of merchandise for fans to purchase as another revenue stream. When Holston decided it was time for The Real Tarzann to have merchandise, he then looked at sustainable options that people could get behind. This means using recycled materials to make clothing, pens, key cords, and just about anything a person to think of while having minimal effect on the environment.
It took time for Holston to come up with the right type of set up that also provided a proper message for his brand. For someone who cares so much about the environment and the animals who share the world with humans, it did not make sense for his brand not to sell sustainable merchandise.
Different designs and new releases are always posted online for fans of The Real Tarzann to purchase. Limited quantities are available in every new design, which encourages people to jump on anything they like instead of letting it sit around.
The use of sustainable merchandise by Holston is something that has inspired others to go the same route. From models to other animal handlers, it is a movement that is gaining steam each and every year. It might only make a small difference if one person goes in this direction, but a bigger change could make a pretty good impact overall.
The official website for all of The Real Tarzann merchandise is wyldone.com. New releases are announced on social media channels, so followers get the first opportunity to purchase exactly what they want. Most people walk away more than satisfied with the professional look of the merchandise, and it is the icing on the cake that it is also sustainable.
What Does The Future Look Like For The Real Tarzann?
A bigger platform can sometimes change individuals and cloud their overall judgment. The focus becomes more business-oriented than anything else, and some followers from the beginning begin to think negatively of the change.
Holston seems to be going a different route. He is being smarter about taking the proper precautions when interacting with new animals, but he is also taking more risks since he has more opportunities to work with. Having a team with him at all times is certainly beneficial, as they can act as a safety net for him as well. As long as he continues to focus on that core passion of his, growth will continue at a steady pace. He is arguably the most well-known animal handler on the internet right now, and that brand has a chance to grow even further.
There does seem to be a slight change in Holston using his platform to raise awareness for things he is most passionate about. Most notably, he has made a strong effort in fighting against animal abuse and cruelty all around the world. During his travels, he has seen some harsh things up close and personal that does not sit with him well. He is hopeful that with a push, changes can start to occur.
All in all, Holston is evolving as an educator, conservationist, and content creator. He is not the same guy who broke onto the scene at an early age and learning along the way. He continues to push boundaries and go where others will not, but overall, it is an evolution worth monitoring.