Learning the Ropes
I got my first job when I was eleven working for our family vet, Dr. Roberts, in Knoxville, Tennessee. I loved cleaning cages and just being around all the animals. I continued working for Dr. Roberts for several summers and developed my love and respect for animals.
After spending a few years at Kiski, a boarding school in Pennsylvania, I attended Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio where I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree. I met my wife, Suzi Egli while we were at Muskingum College and we were married in 1968.
Soon after Suzi and I were married, we opened a pet shop, Pet Kingdom, in Knoxville. I loved working at the pet shop but I knew that I always wanted to work at a zoo, so when I received an offer to direct a small zoo in Sanford, Florida in 1973, I jumped at the opportunity. Suzi and I lived in Florida while I worked at the Central Florida Zoo from 1973 until 1975. In 1975, I had to take a break from the animal world because of an illness in my family. In 1978, I decided I missed working with animals and I answered an ad for a zoo director in Columbus, Ohio.
Transforming the Columbus Zoo
I was the Executive Director of the Columbus Zoo from 1978 until 1992. When I first started at the Columbus Zoo, attendance was low and the animal habitats were outdated. My top priority was to increase attendance by offering educational and entertaining events. As a result of these programs, more and more people started visiting the zoo. Over the years, I was fortunate to meet many leaders in the community. They helped me raise money to transform the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium into the state-of-the-art park that it is today.
In 1983 I was invited to appear on Good Morning America in New York. I eagerly agreed to appear knowing that this was a great opportunity to educate people across the nation about animals. I have been a regular guest and wildlife correspondent ever since.
Two years later, in 1985 I appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman for the first time. Dave and I "hit it off" and I am a guest on The Late Show several times each year. A few years later I started appearing regularly on Larry King Live. Other shows that I have appeared on with my animal friends are Hollywood Squares, the Maury Povich Show, Entertainment Tonight, Hannity & Colmes, and various news programs (as a wildlife correspondent). The animals that I bring on television are cared for by professionals and are ambassadors to their cousins in the wild.
Here and Now
My media appearances were taking up so much time that I could no longer manage the day-to-day matters at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. In 1992, I became the Director Emeritus at the Zoo, a job I still enjoy today. Although I am traveling most days of the year, I still call Central Ohio home.
In 1993 I became the host of Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures, a nationally syndicated television series. Every week we invite viewers to share in our adventures all over the world in the quest to learn about wildlife.
Suzi and I have three daughters.
My eldest daughter Kathaleen is married to an Englishman and living in the UK. She has worked on Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures with me since 1998, but now she and her husband Julian are starting their own family.
My middle daughter Suzanne and her husband Billy live in Cincinnati with their four children: Brittany, Blake, Alison, and Caroline. They come to visit me at the Columbus Zoo where my youngest daughter Julie works.
Julie works in the Promotions Department as an animal educator. She has a special touch with baby animals and often raises young orphans at home.
I have always had pets since I was a young boy. Today I have a Golden Labrador, Tasha and a Golden Retriever, Brass. They go everywhere with me and Suzi and we love taking them on long walks.
Click here for Jack's résumé