“Zoo animals are ambassadors for their cousins in the wild.”
Jack Hanna is an animal advocate and the beloved host of Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures, Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild, and Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown. A true naturalist, with an innate sense of adventure, Hanna charms animals and humans alike with his knowledge and compassion.
Originally from Knoxville, Tennessee, Hanna obtained his bachelor’s degree in business- and then started his own. He opened a pet shop and petting zoo with his wife, Suzi. His passion for animals was always apparent, from his first job cleaning animal cages at a mere eleven years old. While he ran his store, Hanna also directed a zoo in Florida until their family decided to move to Columbus, Ohio for a job opportunity.
Breaking Down the Cages
In 1978, Hanna became Director of the Columbus Zoo. He made immediate changes to the outdated zoo, starting with the small animal enclosures. Seeing that the gorillas were kept inside, unlike their familiar open habitat, he opted to create a more natural space for them outside. When the primates first touched the grass and began to play, Hanna states it was one of the best moments in his career. He also started providing educational and entertaining events at the zoo, increasing the attendance exponentially with time. His years of dedication at the Columbus Zoo has made the zoo a landmark, with ample revenue to provide animals with the best care and facilities.
Educating the World
He served in this capacity until 1992 when he became the Emeritus Director. This new role allows time for his television shows and guest appearances, such as his frequent segments with David Letterman. Hanna first appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman in 1985 and became a regular until Letterman’s retirement. In addition, he has appeared on Larry King Live, FOX News, and The Ellen DeGeneres Show, among others. He worked on the documentary Gorillas on the Brink with actress Natalie Portman, traveling to Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park to visit endangered mountain gorillas.
When he is not working on television and film, Hanna stays busy. He has authored books, including his memoir, Jungle Jack: My Wild Life and animal books for children, such as Jack Hanna’s Big Book of Why: Amazing Animal Facts and Photos. He is philanthropic, giving to the Leukemia Society- a charity supported by many celebrities, including Lady Antebellum, Martina McBride, and Charles Esten. He also supports the Easter Seals and wildlife conservation.
A voice for the animals, Jack Hanna has spent his life protecting animals and promoting education to increase empathy around the world. Hanna is a selfless ambassador whose enthusiasm for animals is contagious.