THE LAST WORD... ‘ ’ When I met a snake catcher I thought, ‘Ooh, that’s next on my bucket list’
WITH SNAKE BOSS JULIA BAKER
“I DIDN’T start out as a snake catcher. I left school at 16 and became a pastry chef. It’s not really what I wanted to do – I wanted to become an actress – but I had to get a real job. I worked in big five-star hotels, first in Sydney, then in Brisbane but when I had my two daughters it made it impossible to go back into the hotel industry.
So I quit pastry for a job with Weight Watchers, because I lost quite a bit of weight.
Then, seven years ago I went through a divorce. I was quite depressed for about six months and my self-esteem and confidence was completely shot. But I thought: “I’ve got to pick myself up, I’ve got two young girls and I’ve got to be a role model. This is not how I expected my life to be but I’ve got to make the best out of it.”
So I wrote a bucket list of all of these things I’d always wanted to do and I did them. I learnt to ride a motorbike, I got a pet snake because I’d always loved them, I did an acting diploma, I did some stand-up comedy courses.
I did all of the things I’d wanted to do and after I’d ticked them off, the following year it had to be bigger and bigger.
I’ve always had a connection with snakes because I feel like they’re totally misunderstood. I remember I saw one in Australia Zoo and got my picture taken and I didn’t get everybody else’s reaction. They were disgusted and screaming and terrified and this poor python was just sitting there looking gorgeous.
And I thought, ‘My life has been like that’. I felt how badly human beings misunderstand each other and animals as well. I wanted to give them a voice and show the world how beautiful they are. So when I met a snake catcher I thought, ‘Ooh, that’s next on my bucket list. That way I can educate people and save snakes’. That was five years ago.
When I first started, people would ring up and say, ‘Can I talk to the snake catcher man?’. And I’d get some mild amusement when a man would be there when I’d turn up and he’d say, ‘Oh, I was just about to do it myself’. But I understand people. I’ve got silly phobias and just because you’re a man doesn’t mean you’re going to be brave about everything.
The two big objectives of mine for Snake Boss are first, we need to show snakes in a different light. They need to be on this Earth. We need to preserve them, we need to respect them.
Secondly, I’d like to inspire people through the show. At the age of 40 I turned my whole life around and I’m so much happier for it. If you’ve got a few crazy goals or dreams, just go for it. And write your bucket list!” SNAKE BOSS MONDAY, 8.30PM, ANIMAL PLANET