VIDEOS PHOTOS Chelsea Handler’s new boyfriend Dave Salmoni from Animal Planet

Dave Salmoni

Chelsea Handler has confirmed rumors that she has moved on from her long-time boyfriend and CEO of Comcast Entertainment Group Ted Harbert. So who is Harbert’s replacement alongside the Queen of Snark?

The answer is Animal Planet producer, host, and all-around stud muffin Dave Salmoni! Chelsea, 35, confirmed the rumors during the July 19 episode of Chelsea Lately on which Salmoni, 34, made an appearance with a huge albino python (yes, I’m sure that was an intentional innuendo). Here’s the interview in which you can clearly see the chemistry between the two:

She followed that up with an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno July 22 during which she replied to Jay’s inquiry about the dating rumors:

“He’s an animal guy. We’re dating… You’ve had him on the show,” Chelsea replied. “He’s really cute. It’s nice to date somebody who can protect you from a bear or a lion!”

She then went on to describe how they met:

“He came on my show and I looked at him and thought, ‘I would like to be penetrated by that’… I’ve never played hard to get. If I like something I have to say, ‘I like you, come with me’… It wasn’t like that necessarily… It was kind of like that.”

The couple was photographed together a at a Natasha Bedingfield concert in Glendale, California a couple weeks ago:

Chelsea Handler and her new boyfriend David Salmoni

So is Dave gonna be up for the abuse most certainly headed his way as Chelsea’s significant other? Can he successfully make the transition from animal handler to Chelsea Handler handler? Can he deal with snark as well as he deals with sharks? Well, if there’s anyone qualified to handle a feroscious pussy it’s this guy! He’s even learned from his prior mistakes. From

I was mauled by Bongo [one of the world’s most famous screen cats; the big male lion in Ghost in the Darkness, George of the Jungle, and many other films and commercials]. It was the most frightening thing I’ve ever experienced, by far. Usually fear is about what’s coming next. With Bongo, there was no next – I was right inside the moment of my death… Apart from that one time, Bongo was the safest, most rewarding cat I ever worked with. I suppose he taught me that the safest cat is also the most dangerous. You can never lose focus. If Bongo can turn on you, any big cat can turn on you.

Here’s Dave’s story:

In 1998 he completed the highly regarded four-year Biology Honors Program at Laurentian University, Ontario. His first experience of working with big, dangerous animals came in his fourth year with a research project on Black Bears for Canada’s Ministry of Natural Resources. The bears were becoming a nuisance to nearby human communities, and the project was geared to finding humane solutions. Solving such problems in a way that benefits both human and animal welfare has since been an ongoing theme in Dave’s life.

On finishing his studies, Dave was offered a job with the Bowmanville Zoological Park, near Toronto. Bowmanville is among the world’s biggest humane-accredited providers of highly trained animals.

Dave Salmoni dreaming of a nude Chelsea Handler

Dave found himself apprenticed to Bowmanville’s founder, legendary animal trainer Michael Hackenberger. “Michael saw the size of me and said I would be good for shoveling a lot of elephant, er, waste,” Dave recalls with a grin. While the job did involve some shoveling, Dave soon proved to have an extraordinary talent for training animals of all shapes and sizes.
Dave Salmoni

Dave went on to become head trainer at Bowmanville. He specialized in big cats but also became adept with trainees ranging from Domestic Cats to Arctic Wolves.

Then, in January 2000, Dave received another life-changing offer. Two of Bowmanville’s young Bengal Tigers, Ron and Julie, were on their way to Africa. There they would be habilitated into the wild, to start a breeding population that could serve as a model for conserving tigers in Asia. Would Dave accompany Ron and Julie, and help them adapt to a strange new wilderness?

Of course he would. Dave fell in love with the Tigers, and was to devote the next four years to them. While he had not been cast as the main character in the film of the project, the camera found him anyway – and simply couldn’t let go.

Living With Tigers riveted television viewers around the globe, and Dave was flooded with offers for further appearances.

Dave’s next major program, Into the Lion’s Den [link to stills in Dave Salmoni Driven Programs], was a two-hour special for Animal Planet that followed Dave on a project he’d first intended as a quiet private “vacation”: walking, unarmed, for three months, with a pride of lethal wild Lions. Dave’s courage and charisma on Into the Lion’s Den again captivated viewers around the globe, and the program marked his leap from documentary character to star presenter.

The programs that followed would see Dave move increasingly from the role of big cat specialist to fascinated generalist – an explorer eager for new experiences with every kind of adrenalin-firing animal, terrain and tribal culture.

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Here’s another clip of Chelsea and Dave together on Chelsea Lately from April 14, 2010: