Jack Hanna of­fers up- close look at an­i­mals, ad­ven­tures

The Republican Herald - This Weekend - - NEWS - BY CHARLOTTE L. JA­COB­SON STAFF WRITER Con­tact the writer: cja­cob­son@cit­i­zensvoice.com; 570- 821- 2061

Jack Hanna thought he would never have the chance to leave Ten­nessee as a child grow­ing up in Knoxville. To­day, af­ter nearly 50 years of work­ing with an­i­mals, Hanna has trav­eled to ev­ery con­ti­nent to con­tinue his work to­ward an­i­mal con­ser­va­tion.

On Satur­day, the wildlife con­ser­va­tion­ist comes to North­east Penn­syl­va­nia with his show, “Into the Wild Live!,” which be­gins at 3 p. m. at F. M. Kirby Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts, Wilkes- Barre. Hanna said he aims to “touch the hearts to teach the minds.”

Hanna’s own an­i­mal ed­u­ca­tion be­gan early. At just 11 years old, he ac­quired his first job work­ing for his fam­ily’s vet­eri­nar­ian, tak­ing on jobs such as clean­ing cages just to be around an­i­mals.

Even­tu­ally, Hanna be­came di­rec­tor of the Colum­bus Zoo, where the birth of twin go­ril­las re­sulted in his tele­vi­sion de­but, the first of many ap­pear­ances on the small screen. Over the years, Hanna ap­peared on “The Late Show with David Let­ter­man,” “Larry King Live,” “The El­len DeGeneres Show,” “Hol­ly­wood Squares,” “Maury,” “Entertainment Tonight” and var­i­ous news pro­grams.

In 1993, he be­gan host­ing “Jack Hanna’s An­i­mal Ad­ven­tures,” a na­tion­ally syn­di­cated se­ries that lasted about a decade. In 2007, a new se­ries, “Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild,” be­gan air­ing, fol­low­ing him as he ex­plored the globe to dis­cover new an­i­mals and cul­tures. The show won Day­time Emmy awards in 2008, 2012 and 2013.

“I’ve been very blessed to visit peo­ple through­out the world, visit an­i­mals through­out the world. It’s hard to be­lieve that all this has hap­pened to me.”

Dur­ing “Into the Wild Live!,” au­di­ences can ex­pect to see about 15 species on stage. They could in­clude a chee­tah, pen­guin, sloth and echidna. In be­tween teach­ing the crowd about the an­i­mals, Hanna will screen var­i­ous video clips from his shows and ex­plo­rations.

“I try and teach dur­ing the show,” he said. “It doesn’t mat­ter if it’s a 5- year- old or up to 100- yearold, my first thing is ed­u­ca­tion. Ed­u­cat­ing, but in a fun way. ... Zoo­log­i­cal parks and aquar­i­ums are the arks of the world. With­out zoo­log­i­cal parks to­day, these an­i­mals won’t make it.”

Through­out the show, Hanna said, he tells var­i­ous stories about his trav­els but also em­pha­sizes the im­por­tance of con­ser­va­tion. Although some of the an­i­mals he cares for are en­dan­gered, Hanna tries to keep the tone lighter in or­der to bring about hope.

“It’s amaz­ing to watch the faces of peo­ple and how they en­joy see­ing these an­i­mals,” he said. “They’ll see the chee­tahs with non­re­tractable claws, and it’s just amaz­ing. That’s how I feel about the work I’ve done.”


Jack Hanna brings his tour­ing show, “Into the Wild Live!,” to F. M. Kirby Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts, Wilkes Barre, on Satur­day.

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