Growing up in the hills of upper East Tennessee Matt Lanier’s love for all creatures great and small came at an early age. He was particularly fascinated by the reptiles and amphibians he encountered and as Lanier became older, this fascination did not wane. Lanier graduated from the University of Tennessee and worked in the Reptile Ethology (Behavior) Lab. Upon graduation, he was hired as the lab manager in which he worked closely with graduate and doctoral students helping with their research and taking care of dozens of reptiles used in behavioral studies. In 2000 Lanier started his first Zoo job as a keeper in the Herpetology Department at the Birmingham Zoo in Alabama. After being there for only a year and a half, he was hired by the Staten Island Zoo where he has been for almost 17 years. During his time in Staten Island, he helped in the development and construction of a new Reptile Wing which opened in 2007. His everyday animal duties at the zoo have mainly focused on the care and maintenance of the large venomous collection which includes cobras, Asian pit vipers, and of course rattlesnakes, which the Staten Island Zoo is known for around the world.