Jack Hanna

(1947 - )

Jack Hanna

Director of the Columbus Zoo

Jack's Background

In 1969 Muskingum College alumnus Jack Hanna earned his BA, completing a double major in business and political science. He did graduate work at University of Tennessee and went on to become a national conservation spokesman who is known throughout America.

Jack was born on January 2, 1947 in Knoxville, Tennessee. The route to becoming a celebrity began in his family's bathtub, where he raised bluegills and then created a backyard menagerie. He loved animals and always wanted to work with them. As a boy he befriended and hung out with a veterinarian who worked at the zoo in Knoxville. He followed the vet as he made his rounds caring for ailing animals. At college he reportedly kept ducks in his room and a miniature donkey in a shed behind his fraternity house. The college disapproved and put a stop to these activities, but Muskingum retained the donkey as a mascot. Jack got to parade the animal during football games and impress Suzi Egli, one of Muskingum's cheer leaders. Jack Young Jackmarried Suzi on December 20, 1968, and after college started a pet shop and petting zoo, worked for a wildlife adventure company and directed a small Florida zoo. Over the years they have raised a baby white tiger, wallabies, many ducks (in the family jacuzzi bath), a few chimps, a spider monkey, a llama and three daughters (Kathaleen, Suzanne and Julie). The family's move to Columbus, Ohio in 1978 was the start of his becoming a national celebrity.

He became a regular on national talk shows and published a hit autobiographical book, "Monkeys on the Interstate." Other books, including one for children, "Let's Go To The Petting Zoo With Jungle Jack," followed. (His latest book is "Jack Hanna's Ultimate Guide to Pets" - G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1996.)

Director of the Columbus Zoo

Since his return to Ohio to accept the position of Director of the Columbus Zoo, Jack has become a national celebrity who serves as a spokesman for conservation and the zoo. With infectious enthusiasm and hard work, he became known as "Jungle Jack", and turned the routine Columbus Zoo into a remarkable success, known internationally for its exceptional reptile and cheetah collection. Today, the zoo is the city's top tourist attraction. In addition to developing the zoo into model facility amongst professionals, Jack managed to make it known throughout America. He has become a popular and respected animal expert who makes frequent guest appearances with various animal companions on TV shows such as "Good Morning America," "Larry King Live," and "The Late Show with David Letterman," and "Live With Regis and Kathie Lee". His love of animals, enthusiasm, and personable nature have penguinsmade him a favorite guest of these shows.

Jack has also hosted numerous specials for PBS, Discovery, and The Nashville Network. Jack's conservation work has taken him throughout India, Europe, Africa, Antarctica, South America, the Galapagos Islands, the Amazon and the Orient. And, he is the host of his own hit nature series, "Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures." Magazine Cover It is a nationally syndicated show that appears in 150 markets across the country reaching 95% of U.S. television households every weekend taking viewers on exciting journeys to learn about animals and the places they live. Today, Jack is Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo (since 1993), but he has not slowed his pace. He has been instrumental in Muskingum College's development of an interdisciplinary conservation major and a important supporter of the establishment of THE WILDS, a 10,000 acres wildlife preserve designed to preserve and reestablished endangered species. His syndicated series continues to take him around the world, he makes countless presentations, he still serves as a frequent guest on TV shows, and he remains active in the zoo and his community.

He is a Professional Fellow of the American Zoo & Aquarium Association and a member of the Explorer's Club. He is also an active supporter of Easter Seals and the Leukemia Society and serves on the boards of several educational institutions. While he takes all of his civic duties seriously, wildlife conservation remains Jack Hanna's true calling.

Related Links

  • Christian Reader article on his family life
  • Columbus Zoo
  • Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures
  • Jack's pet guide book
  • Jungle Jack's Journal
  • Muskingum College's Global Conservation Major
  • The Wilds

    [History Home Page] [Psychology Department Home Page]