A slew of critters and wildlife make a pit stop at UB

Jeff Musial amuses parents and children alike

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The eager chatter of children and the excitement of their parents shaped the atmosphere of the Center for the Arts Saturday, as they waited to be in awe of the next critter or exotic animal Jeff Musial “The Animal Guy” would bring to the stage.

Jeff Musial of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” brought a collection of exotic animals to the UB Center of the Arts stage, one just as interesting the next. Musial referred to his path of success, which started when we worked at a pet store at 14-years-old.

“Instead of getting paid in cash, I got paid in animals,” Musial said to the audience.

As Musial’s collection of animals grew greater, he looked for other ways to make a living. He started to perform at birthday parties, which eventually lead him to a feature spot on “The Tonight Show.” Musial considered trying to make a name for himself after a result of a backstage conversation with a talent scout who suggested he get some headshots.

“July 23, 2009 I was asked to do Jimmy Fallon because Twisted Sister canceled,” Musial said with a smile.

On stage, Musial introduced animals including an eagle owl, a lynx, a baby kangaroo and a boa constrictor. Musial provided background and history of all the animals and gave interesting facts about them as well.

“Male kangaroos don’t have pouches and females are the best mothers around,” Musial said. “Mothers let their children use the bathroom in their pouches and lick the child and their pouches clean.”

Musial was able to maintain a charming balance between educational and amusement, informing the audience that some of the animals were endangered and no animal was ever taken from their home unwillingly.

“I liked that he keeps the animals for the duration of their life, he builds a connection with them and I think that makes for a better show,” said Matt Hogan, a Buffalo resident.

Renee Johnson, 51, a resident of Niagara Falls, along with her family was interested in Musial after hearing about him on the radio. They said the event was like a prelude to Musial’s successful career as a wild life educator.

“When I heard he was a regular on Jimmy Fallon, I felt that we were catching him on the way up,” Johnson said. “We could look back a few years later and say that we’ve seen him live.”

Musial’s interest in animals is clear in his vast array of knowledge about wild life. The animals appeared comfortable on stage, showing off their personalities like performers.

A two-toed sloth hung aloof on Musial’s arm, while he comically discussed that sloths only go to the bathroom once every two weeks.

Children in the crowd were intrigued by Musial’s improvisational skills, as he was able to keep a baby kangaroo from hopping off stage.

Musial also revealed he has a show with Nickelodeon in the works.

The event was a clear indication that people would be seeing more of Musial in the future. His love of the animals he cares for is apparent, and his desire to educate people about them well received.

email: arts@ubspectrum.com