First person: Animal enthusiast

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Cody Machen, Hillcrest Park Zoo keeper, was bit by the venomous gila monster, but wouldn’t let himself be afraid to hold it.

Zookeeper Cody Machen has always loved reptiles and had them as pets as a child. Machen, 22, was bitten by a gila monster at the Hillcrest Park Zoo in April, which led to him to be hospitalized.

That fateful day: The gila monster bit my wrist on April 9. I had an allergic reaction, my face and throat swelled up and I passed out. You know stuff like that is going to happen in this job,