“Jungle Jack” Hanna is one of the most well-known and respected ambassadors between the human and animal worlds. Jungle Jack Hanna’s live show features many of his favorite animal friends, as well as fascinating and humorous stories and footage from his adventures around the world. His hands-on approach and insight into the public's appreciation of wildlife have won him widespread popular acclaim as Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo, conservationist, author, television personality and lifelong adventurer.
Hanna’s passion for wildlife stems from his early childhood. Having cultivated a love for animals on the family farm, Hanna spent his teenage summers helping the local veterinarian by cleaning animal cages. After graduating from Muskingum College, Hanna and his wife, Suzi, opened Pet Kingdom, a successful pet store and petting zoo. From there it was only a few years until Hanna became director of the Central Florida Zoo.
In 1978, Hanna received the opportunity of a lifetime: directorship of the Columbus Zoo in Ohio. The zoo was struggling and in sore need of rejuvenation when Hanna arrived and transformed the floundering establishment into the state-of-the-art zoo it is today. During this time, annual attendance at the Columbus Zoo increased over 400 percent. One of the biggest improvements was transitioning the zoo from cage-like closures to habitat environments.
Hanna has made countless television appearances on shows such as Good Morning America, Larry King Live, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Fox News programs, and the Late Show with David Letterman. Further capitalizing on his media savvy, Hanna has taken his ineffable passion to the airwaves through his successful television program, Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures. Airing since 1993, the show now reaches 96% of U.S. television households every weekend. Jack Hanna's Into the Wild premiered in 2007 and was awarded a 2008 Emmy for Outstanding Children's Series.
Hanna now enjoys speaking tours across the country, sharing his globetrotting experiences and enlightening thousands of people about the animal world. Author of 10 books—and counting—his timeless tales continue to captivate audiences from every generation. In 1989, Hanna published his autobiography Monkeys on the Interstate and Other Tales from America’s Favorite Zookeeper. The book featured stories about the Columbus Zoo, including successful breeding of endangered species, and animal births, deaths and escapes—the monkeys in the title went north on I-71 to Cleveland. Hanna’s children’s books Romp, Stomp, Waddle Home! and Passport Into The Wild won gold medals in the animal kingdom category of the 2009 Mom's Choice Awards®.
In addition to serving on the boards of several education institutions, Hanna actively supports the Leukemia Society, St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, Partners in Conservation, The Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, and the SeaWorld Busch Conservation Fund. He is also a Professional Fellow of the American Zoo & Aquarium Association.
Memorable TV Moments with Jungle Jack
- 1981 – Jack Hanna hosted Hanna’s Ark on a local Columbus CBS affiliate.
- 1983 – Hanna’s first national television appearance was on Good Morning America to talk about the birth of twin tigers at Columbus Zoo.
- 1985 – For Hanna’s first appearance on Late Night with David Letterman, he brought along a toucan, an aardvark and a peacock. This first appearance grew into the 24-year regular guest spot Hanna holds on Letterman’s shows.
- 1993 – Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures premieres. Hanna traveled to conservation sites, nature preserves, zoos and natural animal habitats around the world to learn—and educate his audience—about animals and environmental conservation. The nationally syndicated show reaches 96% of U.S. households.
- 2000 – Hanna was the animal expert for Cartoon Network’s The Big Game XXVIII: Road Runner vs. Coyote, which pitted the classic WB cartoon characters against each other in a Superbowl-style, animated showdown.
- 2001 – Hanna’s first of 20 appearances on the game show Hollywood Squares.
- 2007 – Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild debuts. The unscripted show also documents Hanna’s animal-related travels but focuses on what it takes to film the moments of interaction between the Hanna family and wild animals.
- 2008 - Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild wins an Emmy for Outstanding Children's Series.
- 2009 – On Hanna’s 18th appearance on a Letterman-hosted show, he brought Nubian goats from Africa on-set at Late Show with David Letterman. Goats were the animals from Hanna’s childhood that got him first interested in zoology.