IN CONVERSATION WITH KYLE THOMAS
Kyle Thomas is a UK based content creator, author and animal enthusiast who is widely known for being one of the most followed creators on TikTok with over 35 million followers, as well as a growing YouTube audience.
Kyle, what made you decide to become a content creator as a career?
I’d always loved watching YouTubers when I was a kid and it was definitely a goal of mine to have an audience one day. I wasn’t really sure how and I wasn’t exactly taking any major steps to get there. It all sort of happened by accident. I started posting silly, random videos on TikTok and Instagram and somehow it just worked. I never thought I’d be saying that content creation was what I did for a living.
With over 35 million followers, you are one of the most followed creators on TikTok. What are in your opinion the biggest advantages and also the biggest disadvantages of TikTok as a social media platform?
The advantages are huge and I tend to only look at social media in a positive light as I feel very lucky that I ended up where I am. It’s amazing to be able to talk about things I really care about and helping teach people about animals and wildlife. It is something I plan on doing a lot more of. The only real disadvantage would be the pressure that comes with trying to keep up and so quickly. Although, I strongly believe that most creators are extremely lucky and that if it ever became too much, there’s nothing stopping anyone from working a normal job.
Do you usually have a pre-planned schedule of your TikTok posts? If yes, why is it so important to have a schedule?
I try my best and understand that consistency is extremely important as social media moves so quickly that content creators can very easily be forgotten about. Although, recently I have realised that sometimes you need to step out just a little bit to focus on what’s next. Over the past 6 months, I’ve been planning something extremely exciting and that’s required me to take a break from my regular routine and make myself slightly vulnerable in order to give this next chapter my everything.
Where does your love for exotic animals come from?
I’ve always been such an inquisitive person. When I was younger, I’d have pet stick insects, spiders and I’d hatch tadpoles every year. I was definitely in awe of the animals I saw on TV, on programmes such as Australia Zoo, but I wouldn’t say my love came from anywhere, I’d say it was already there. When I’m around animals, I really feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. It just feels right.
This love has also taken you around the world, as you continue to progressively research, learn and advocate for animal welfare on a global scale. What have you learned so far about animal welfare on your quests around the world?
It’s been a huge shock to me to see how animals are valued and treated in other parts of the world. As someone who’s always grown up to value animals as individuals with personalities and who loves to give, it’s been a shock to me to be in certain countries where animals are treated as items. For example, I’ve been to most of the main animal markets in the world and seeing the likes of meerkats in small cages being handed to young children as toys is something that I plan to fight against.
What is something that other people could do to help with this cause?
The power of internet is insane and I think it takes a group of people to get together and begin educating people about these topics. We all seek positivity and seeing a cute monkey online makes us feel happy, but it’s definitely time for people to start listening to the harsh realities of the illegal animal trade. Coming together will help us put an end to what we don’t want to see to begin with.
In which country and about which exotic animal have you learned the most fascinating thing?
In my homeland, in Northern Ireland. Traveling has taught me so much and seeing animals out in the wild accompanied by experts in those certain species definitely comes with a lot of fascinating facts. Despite that, I think the best way to learn is by being hands on. It was a shock to me to find out female meerkats have double the amount of testosterone compared to males, so they are extremely territorial and aggressive. In meerkat mobs there is always an alpha female.
As an author, you have released a graphic novel ‘Guardian of the Realm’, which focuses around a pet meerkat Mylo, as you travel through an alternate world. What in particular inspired this novel?
As much as my book is very fantasy themed, it was purely inspired from my real life events. Moving away with my mom at a young age and the start of our family of incredible animals.
How does it make you feel when you are writing a book? Has being an author always been something you wanted to do?
As a kid I’d always been very creatively focused. I have a huge imagination and my book was a way to put that creativity to a use. I found the overall experience very exciting and I was very proud to see it on a shelf. I also like writing as it’s incredible to look back on and realise how I’ve grown. I still write for fun and a future book is definitely something in the works.
Kyle, what can you tell us about your upcoming projects and goals for the future of your career?
I’ve just finalised the purchase of 14 acres of land to start my very own animal sanctuary. As I’ve learnt more and more about animals and wildlife, it’s become a goal of mine to begin educating people about individual species of animals and more importantly why we don’t really want them as pets. I’m excited to show people the complexities of the animals I have and to continue to display how cute they are meanwhile focusing on the very important topics that come with that. My overall goal is to continue doing what I love and just to make sure that I’m making a positive impact.
interview by JANA LETONJA @janaletonja
Talent: Kyle Thomas @kylethomas
Photographer: Alexander Beer @alexbeer7
Stylist: Mike Adler @ Monday Artists @stylistmikeadler @mondayartists
Stylist assistant: Tamanna Mahbubani Samtani @tamannamahbubani
Hair: Chris Kurz @chris_kurz_
Beauty: Michael Gray @ David Artists using Ilia cosmetics @michaelgraymakeup @davidartistsltd
Editor: Timi Letonja @timiletonja