Meet the amazing staff at Hands on Exotics!

Seth (Owner)

Seth started Hands on Exotics in 2011 with his dog Opie, Zoe the macaw, and Peanut the lizard.In an effort to enrich the lives of his animals and socialize them on a regular basis he volunteered his time by bringing them to the residents of local senior’s homes. This turned out to not only be a positive experience for the animals, but also for the residents of these homes. The care providers of these seniors have never seen their residents light up as much as they did during these animal visits!

Along the way Seth met many people and families who had animals that needed a new home. He realized that while there are many animal shelters and facilities that take in dogs and cats there are very few who can take in exotic animals like parrots, reptiles, and exotic mammals. Hands on Exotics is now home to roughly 150 adopted animals and continues to take in animals in need of a home whenever possible.

Mandy (Manager)

Having always had a passion for animals, Mandy attended the University of Guelph to study Wildlife Biology. While in school she gained experience working in wildlife rehabilitation, and conducted parrot shows at African Lion Safari.

After graduating with a Master’s degree she worked at Earth Rangers for 3 years, conducting school assemblies that educate kids about wildlife and conservation issues.

Since joining Hands on Exotics, Mandy has developed a love for therapy visits and educating families. She currently lives at home with her 2 cats (Hobbes and Tulip), her dog Ollie, and her husband Gary.

Natalie (Lead Handler and Educator)

Natalie first developed an interest in science education when she was working as a volunteer educator while completing her undergrad degree in Biology and Psychology at McMaster University. While at McMaster, she worked with a bat research lab, studying silver-haired bats and helping to care for a colony of big brown bats.

She has since developed a passion for wildlife; completing a Master’s Degree studying song birds at the University of Western Ontario. She also gained experience working at a wildlife rehabilitation center, specializing in wildlife education.

At home she has a cat named TK.

Kiera (Office Administrator)

Kiera grew up on a family owned dairy farm where she learned that all creatures are to be treated with respect- from the feral cats that her family took from shelters because they can’t be placed in homes, to the holsteins and jerseys that each had names and would walk up and bump her for a scratch behind their forehead.

She currently belongs to 3 animals at the moment: a nine year old catahoula-greyhound rescue pup named Penelope, a siamese named Sebastian, and Charlotte- a little black cat Penelope found on a walk last year and decided to keep.

If she were an animal she would be a sea otter.

Aaron (Animal Care)

Aaron attended the University of Guelph for their Wildlife Biology and Conservation program, graduating in 2016.

Throughout his University education, we spent time volunteering at an animal hospital and an animal rescue. Aaron gained valuable experience with wildlife while working in wildlife rehabilitation from 2014-2017.

At home Aaron has 2 hedgehogs names Alder and Melon, a cat named Milo, and a dog named Jasmine.

Rachel (Animal Handler and Educator)

 Rachel began gaining experience with animals while still in high school, when she volunteered at a veterinary clinic helping to care for their patients.

She has since completed a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Guelph, majoring in biological sciences. While in school, Rachel worked as a Wildlife Nursery Assistant in rehabilitation center, and was an active member of the Guelph Poultry Club.

Alissa (Animal Handler and Educator)

Alissa is currently finishing up her degree in Animal Biology at the University of Guelph.  She is passionate about pursuing a career in Animal Care and Education.

Alissa joined the Hands on Exotics team in 2016 and has since become a valuable asset.

In her spare time Alissa enjoys sailing and horseback riding.

Vanessa (Animal Handler and Educator)

Vanessa developed an interest in animals at an early age from watching her favourite TV show Zoboomafoo growing up. In high school, she did a co-op placement at a veterinary clinic as an animal care assistant, and continued to work there after her co-op was completed.

She then went on to graduate from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Biology and Conservation. After graduating, Vanessa started to volunteer at Hands on Exotics, and soon became a member of the Outreach team as an Animal Handler and Educator. She enjoys working with a variety of animals and hopes to pursue a career in wildlife rehabilitation in the future.