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Jack Hanna to bring a zoo to town

MATT JAMES Of the Record staff
Jack Hanna will appear at the Eccles Center, courtesy of the Park City Performing Arts Foundation, this evening at 7 p.m. Photo courtesy of the Park City Performing Arts Foundation.
3Jack-Hanna

Jack Hanna shows up just about everywhere: chatting with David Letterman, taking animals to "Good Morning America," talking to Larry King, or even on his own TV show, "Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures," and today only at the Eccels Center in Park City.

Today, Hanna, the Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo, in Columbus, Ohio, will have his traveling animal show in Park City for a show courtesy of the Park City Performing Arts Foundation.

Hanna said the family-friendly show would be informative and just as importantly fun.

"It’s a real heavy presentation," he said. "I’m here to tell people stories about animals."

His show includes video presentations, talks and live animals. "What I usually talk about is my recent trip to Rwanda to see the mountain gorillas," said Hanna.

The animals, he said, would appear interspersed within his presentation. Among those he plans to bring are a baby kangaroo, a large snake, a lemur, a porcupine and, perhaps, a zebra.

While he presents animals from the Columbus Zoo at his shows east of the Mississippi, he said that when he’s out west, he uses animals provided by an animal farm in California so in Park City, his animal friends will come from the Golden State.

But while his exotic animals come from a relatively local source, Hanna’s travel stories come from some genuinely diverse locations. In the past year, he said he has visited Australia and Belize, in addition to Rwanda.

The show, he said, allows him to see plenty of exotic lands.

"We’ve traveled to every continent in the world at least twice," said Hanna.

Every year, he said he averages two or three major trips abroad and, including his speaking engagements, more than 220 days on the road.

He divides his time between his TV show, public speaking and guest appearances, with time spent writing books and working at the Columbus Zoo.

But he said his favorite part was coming out to talk at his speaking engagements like the one at Eccles Center.

"I love that the most," he said. "I love it because I can communicate with people and talk to them."

Hanna made his name as the executive director of the Columbus Zoo from

1978-1992. The zoo’s Web site talks about how in his time there, he revolutionized its facilities and increased attendance from fewer than 360,000 visitors per year when he started, to more than 1.4 million in ’92.

The Web site also talks about Hanna’s nearly boundless energy, how he’d drive around the whole zoo every morning in his car and how, in the evening, after the facility closed, he would traverse the zoo on foot, picking up trash.

Talking to Hanna as he readied for a flight to Montana, one can easily hear that energy in his voice. He seems unafraid, ready and willing to tackle as many tasks as he can manage.

That’s probably why he seems to be everywhere at once on multiple television programs, in Park City, Columbus, and elsewhere. He said he is happy to be doing the job though, interacting with and learning about animals and sharing that knowledge with as many people as possible.

"I believe in communicating in a fun way," said Hanna. "It’s a show where I go and talk about animals."

Jack Hanna is scheduled to appear at the Eccles Center in Park City this evening at 7 p.m. Tickets to the event range from $15-$30 for adults and are $5 for children, with discounts available for students and seniors. For tickets or more information about the show, go to http://www.ecclescenter.org or call 655-3114.


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