Jack Hanna Talks About His First Job

Jack Hanna(Photo: WOSU)

Jack Hanna talks about his first job.

John Bushnell “Jack” Hanna (born January 2, 1947) is an American zookeeper who is the Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. He was Director of the zoo from 1978 to 1993, and is viewed as largely responsible for elevating its quality and reputation. His media appearances have made him one of the most notable animal experts in the United States.

Hanna was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. He grew up on his father’s farm outside Knoxville, and volunteered for a veterinarian when he was 11. He attended The Kiski School, an all-boys boarding school in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania, for high school, graduating in 1965. He majored in business and political science at Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio, where he got in trouble for keeping ducks in his dorm room and a donkey in a shed behind his fraternity house (The M.A.C.E. Club). His senior year, Hanna married Suzi, a cheerleader at Muskingum, and graduated in 1969. Though unable to secure zoning as a zoo for his father’s farm, the two opened a pet shop and petting zoo.

He then worked for a wildlife adventure company and directed the small Sanford Zoo and Central Florida Zoo from 1973 to 1975. When he was offered the position at the Columbus Zoo in 1978, one of the reasons he accepted was because he believed the Children’s Hospital in Columbus had the best treatment available for his daughter Julie’s leukemia.