Jack Hanna offers up- close look at animals, adventures
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.