Jack Hanna

From Ohio History Central
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Jack Hanna with a baby rhino.

Jack Hanna is Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and a well-known zoological advocate and educator.

Jack Bushnell Hanna was born in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1947. As a child, Hanna developed a love for animals and raised bluegill fish in his family's bathtub. He graduated from Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio, and moved to Florida, where he and his wife opened a petting zoo and pet store. From 1973 to 1975, Hanna served as the director of the Central Florida Zoo.

In 1978, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Columbus, Ohio, hired Hanna to be its Executive Director. He held that position for the next fourteen years. Hanna transformed the zoo. Attendance rose from approximately 350,000 people in 1978 to 1.4 million visitors in 1992. He eliminated cages and provided animals with more realistic environments. Hanna also dramatically enhanced the zoo's educational efforts and actively campaigned for more donations to further improve the zoo. Hanna regularly appeared on such television programs as Good Morning America, Late Night with David Letterman, The Maury Povich Show, and Larry King Live. Hanna's television appearances brought the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium national attention. Funding for the zoo increased dramatically and assisted Hanna in furthering animal education.

In 1992, Hanna became the Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. He continues to represent the zoo but is not responsible for its day-to-day operation. Since 1993, Hanna also has starred in a television program called Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures. The syndicated cable television show reaches ninety-six percent of American households. It also appears in sixty-two foreign countries. Through this program, Hanna travels around the world and brings animals in their natural habitats into viewers' homes.

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