This article is from 2007, but the hypocrisy is in the fact that Jack Hanna should have known better than to take wild animals onto talk shows or out to schools. We believe that it’s a monkey-see-monkey-do world out there and when people see celebrities, like Jack Hanna, taking cute baby wild cats into TV studios, they want to be like that guy, and will pay to pet exotic cats too.
If not for the demand for cub petting, that has been caused by all of the showing off on stage and in film, there wouldn’t be incidents like the Zanesville Massacre in the first place. What is even worse is that DC staffers tell us that Jack Hanna has become the mouthpiece for the ZAA which is a collection of second rate roadside zoos, in our opinion, and as such he has been trying to thwart our efforts to pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act.
Jack Hanna brings clouded leopard, civet to CT
By GLORIA COLE SUGARMAN
You almost never see him without his arms around an exotic creature. Jungle Jack Hanna, director emeritus of the Columbus Ohio Zoo and Aquarium, host of the syndicated television series, “Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures” and frequent guest on everybody else’s television shows, is probably the foremost wild animal expert in the country and certainly the best known.
His mission is to teach about animals and how their well being is directly connected to humans. He will perform his show-and-tell Sunday, Feb. 11, 2 p.m. at Stamford’s Palace Theatre. Among the creatures he plans to show are a clouded leopard, which he says is one of the most endangered animals in the world; a dingo, which is one of only two kinds of wild dogs left; a civet which is an Asian mongoose; a three-toed sloth, as well as an array of snakes and birds.
“All of the exotic animals we show were born in zoos,” he said in a telephone interview from Columbus, “It’s a way to learn what magnificent creatures they are and why we should save them and what would happen if we don’t.”
Between the actual live animals, there will be videos of his work with gorillas in Rwanda, rhinos in Africa and a bear giving birth to a baby in a cave.
Unlike Steve Irwin, the crocodile hunter who was killed recently by a stingray’s barb, Hanna does not put himself in dangerous situations.
“All animals can be dangerous,” he said, “But Steve liked to get up close and personal with them in the wild; he was more hands-on. We each have different ways of doing it.”
Jack Hanna’s love for animals began when he was growing up in Knoxville, Tenn. At age 11, he got a summer job helping the family veterinarian by cleaning out the animals’ cages.
“I loved cleaning cages and just being around all the animals,” he said, “And it developed my love and interest for animals.”
After college, he and his wife, Suzi, opened a pet shop in Knoxville, but he always knew he wanted to work at a zoo. He jumped at an offer to direct a small zoo in Florida, which led directly to his becoming the director of the Columbus zoo, from 1978 until 1992, updating the animals’ habitats and vastly increasing zoo attendance.
His ability to share his passion and to show how to handle animals led to his first appearance on “Good Morning America,” which in turn led to regular guest spots on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “Larry King Live” and as wild life correspondent on many other shows.
“The animals that I bring on television are cared for by professionals,” he said, “And are ambassadors for their cousins in the wild.”
As to the animal rights groups who criticize the whole concept of zoos as being antithetical to the idea of wild animals, Hanna said, “These are people who haven’t had the experiences that I’ve had. They don’t realize that there is very little wild left. Only the North Pole, the South Pole and the Amazon still have wild places. All the rest of what we think of as wild are actually game parks, such as in Africa, which actually protect the animals. If they go outside the parks, they wouldn’t live. Animals adapt to the zoological environment, which serve as a wonderful way for people to learn about animals. They are also one of the most popular destinations for people; last year 146 million people went to our zoos.”
A strong advocate for people having pets, Hanna believes that children can learn to love and respect animals by taking care of a pet.
Although he loves all animals, Hanna admits that his favorite is the elephant.
“We will never know everything about how animals think and feel,” he said, “But we have learned that elephants have tremendous communication skills and that they are very socialized creatures. They are really as intelligent as primates. And it’s absolutely true that an elephant never forgets.”
Jungle Jack Hanna’s live show with animals is Sunday, Feb. 11, 2 p.m. at the Palace Theatre, 61 Atlantic St. Tickets: $32-$47. Call 325-4466.
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