Celebrity Zookeeper: The Exotic Adventures of Jack Hanna

Photo by Phil Konstantin

Who doesn’t love going to the zoo? The chance to see wild and exotic animals up close is an experience that all ages enjoy.

But the modern zoo bears little resemblance to those you, or your parents, may remember. The cramped dirty cages that characterized the zoos of a prior era have now been replaced by more open settings that may mimic an animal’s natural habitat.

One of the principal architects of that transformation was longtime Columbus Zoo director Jack Hanna. He took over an aging and decrepit facility and turned it into a showplace, attracting thousands of visitors.

And Hanna himself became a celebrity. During the 1980s and ’90s he was on television all over the place. And he always brought an exotic animal with him.

I met him in 1989 when he wrote his memoir, called Monkeys On The Interstate.

And what animal did he bring with him the day I interviewed him? You’ll hear a Madagascar hissing cockroach.

So here now, from 1989, Jack Hanna.

Jack Hanna is 77 now, and lives with his wife in Montana. A couple of years ago he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

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