Everyone that has ever met Jack Hanna loves him. Probably just about everyone in the country has seen him on one of the late night talk shows. He is a regular guest on The Late Show with David Letterman, Larry King LIve, FOX News, and has appeared as a square on Hollywood Squares. Jack is just a good ol' boy and his nickname is Jungle Jack.
He was born in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1947. His first job was cleaning cages for the family's vet, Dr. Roberts, and this is where he developed his love and respect for animals. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio. While there he met his wife Suzi. After graduation they moved to Florida where he opened a petting zoo and pet store. He then became director of the Central Florida Zoo for 2 years. In 1978 he was hired by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium as Executive Director.
Before Jack Hanna became director, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium had already received world-wide acclaim as being the first zoo in the world for the first captive birth of a lowland gorilla in 1956. The notoriety of Colo's birth eventually wore off and the zoo began a slow decline in attendance and community interest. When Jack Hanna was hired in 1978 his top priority was to increase attendance and build interest. He started by offering educational and entertaining events at the zoo. In 1983 he was invited to appear on Good Morning America, and then a few years later he began appearing on Letterman's show several times each year.
His on-camera antics were captivating and his popularity soared as did interest in the zoo. Jack's on camera time became so demanding that he couldn't devote enough time to the zoo, so in 1992 he stepped down from being Executive Director and became Director Emeritus, a job that he still holds today. Jack Hanna will always be an ambassador for the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
Today Jack is host of Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures and he still calls Central Ohio home, although he spends probably more time out of state and he has another residence in Montana. He also is author to several books.
When the world record 18-year-old, 300 pound python named Fluffy died in 2010, her daughter took her mother's place at the zoo. With all popular exhibits, great fan-fare was displayed and a contest ensued to name the new star reptile. "Hanna" was selected in honor of Jack. This becomes the third time that an animal had been named for the real star at the zoo. The previous 2 times according to a report in the Columbus Dispatch was once for a rabbit and the other for a jackass.