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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Q&A: welcome to the wild

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Provided

Battalion Life & Arts reporter Bethany Irvine spoke with animal enthusiast and zookeeper Jack Hanna to discuss his upcoming visit to campus Saturday and his experience with animals, conservation and television.
THE BATTALION: As a child, I watched your television series “Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures” in the 1990s. How has your audience demographic developed since then?
HANNA: Well, the audience really hasn’t changed, people think it’s a children’s show but it’s just as much for adults as it [is] for children. The main audience is like in their 20s to 50s now. It’s still a family show but there are just as many adults watching as kids, the audience is families.
THE BATTALION: With your live show coming to campus, what are some ways that students can aid in the conservation effort you promote?
Anybody, whether you are in a dorm or wherever you are, can always help in conservation. You can visit zoology departments, you can visit websites and see if you have an interest in certain types of animals. You have to be careful what you support and make sure that your dollars go to the right places. That’s how you can help as well. For example, it might be in Texas or in Ohio, and plastic that might last a hundred years or forever, you know, especially in Texas. Fishing for example — in fishing, you have your line or your hooks and it has caused a lot of big problems with wildlife in Texas because the whole state is on the coast. So some people don’t realize that the plastic bags they keep their food in and throw out, the sea turtles think they’re “plastic jellyfish” and they can be fatal for sea turtles and other animals. The fishing hook and lines? I’ve seen animals die that way and it’s not a pretty sight, it’s a long cruel death.
THE BATTALION: What can people expect to see at your event? What will be on stage with you?
Hanna: It’s a lot of fun for everybody, educating in a way that’s serious but also fun and it’s worked pretty good for 40-something years. I’m not a celebrity, I’m not a star, none of that stuff — I’m a person that lives on a farm, a person that believes because I’ve seen what all of us do in the real world. As far as animals go, I’ll be showing clips from my television shows, interviews, some bits from 700 shows over 30 years. I’ll be showing clips from my travel from around the world, so you’ll see my trip to see the mountain gorillas, for example, in Rwanda. There’s about 700 in the world left. I’ll be showing wild animals. I will be showing clips of young baby animals in rehab centers around the world, whether the mother died or was poached or whatever, and them being taken back to the wild. I’ll show my blooper video, which all young people love. I’ll be showing clips from David Letterman, over 100 shows from the Letterman Show, I’ll be showing clips from when y’all weren’t even born yet of the Letterman Show.
THE BATTALION: Initially, you became a zookeeper, later gaining the title of director of the Columbus Zoo, then going further by appearing on multiple live TV shows and developing your own. How have your opinions regarding conservation changed over the years?
Hanna: My views have changed in that I’m a more positive person. I used to be a person that looked at the negative part of conservation. Animals dying, animals going extinct, this animal, that animal, it’s all you hear, you know? News stays negative, “The whole world is coming to an end.” Yes, we have problems in the world today, negativity drives news. My speech is positive, I speak about issues with rhinos and other animals that cause concern, but I’m not going to sit up there and tell everybody, “Guess what? The rhino is going to go extinct in five years!” What would happen? Nothing. But I am gonna tell you what you can do to help. Yes, my views of conservation change because conservation efforts have changed. There is good and bad. You try to come up with something that gives hope. My views have changed that way, to view conservation in a positive way, not a negative way.
THE BATTALION: Was there a particular person or experience that inspired you to further endorse wildlife conservation? If not, how did your passion for conservation develop?
Hanna: The passion has always been there. As a little boy on a farm I fed animals, and I cleaned cages when I was 16, so I’ve always been driven by love of animals but I took it to the next level. So I worked hard when I was younger, and it took a lot of work. “Marlin Perkins Wild Kingdom,” which you’re way too young to have ever heard of. It was a show I used to watch on TV. And by the way I never wanted to be on TV, ever. Now, you have most people go out and seek TV, I never did. But now I have “Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures,” “Jack Hanna’s Into The Wild,” and “Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown,” which is the combination of Animal Adventures and Into the Wild.
THE BATTALION: Interaction with live animals plays a large role in your show. Has there ever been any unexpected hilarity that ensued?
Hanna: We used to be able to bring people up, but we can’t do that now legally. But we’ll bring a camera on stage to show you the animals, we also hope to show you a baby kangaroo on stage inside the mom, you’ve never seen that before. And if we get lucky we can do that this time, it’s very rare. Several things have happened, animals will go to the bathroom on my head, sometimes when we fly birds over the audience it might lay on your head or something.

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