Jack Hanna knows the drill. Sign autographs, meet and greet the families, then introduce the animals. Since 1973, the conservationist's agenda has been filled with globetrotting, guest appearances on talk shows, and filming his syndicated series Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures. That may be enough action to make even Noah toss the creatures overboard and sail for a much-needed vacation, but luckily for this year's SEWE attendees, the naturalist shows little sign of fatigue.
"This is the second year I've come to the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition and I can say it's one of the best events I've ever seen," said Hanna.
An event that's sure to be made better with his addition. Hanna will host two shows at the Gaillard Auditorium on Friday and Saturday. A cougar, baby cougar, skunk, possum, fox, fennec fox, binturong, dingo, macaw, and a palm civet will all be on hand and discussed during the program, and there will be a showing of Hanna's recent footage from Rwanda, where he followed and filmed native mountain gorillas.
In a recent interview, City Paper grilled the beastmaster. — Kinsey Labberton
CP: Which animal is the most docile looking but could actually tear you apart? An animal that's cute but actually really terrifying?
Hard to use the word terrifying, it's not fair to the animals. You know, it's good to fear a tiger because it's a dangerous creature. But at the same time, it's that danger that has helped annihilate tigers from Asia. Like an elephant, it is an animal you have to respect. He looks nice, but could squash you. Horses are also very dangerous creatures. I've seen more people injured by horses. In fact, I'm more leery of a horse than a lion.
CP: You've traveled to numerous wildlife parks around the world. Which do you consider the best for sighting animals?
Botswana has a beautiful park in the Okavango Delta. Also, Glacier National Park is beautiful, I plan to retire there. Also, Rwanda is amazing. I'm kind of dedicating my work to help Rwanda. They have so many animals there, and if people go to tour their parks it'll help rebuild their economy.
CP: OK, so what animal is the biggest chick magnet?
Well, women love dolphins, also koalas, they look like little toys. Oh, and women love pandas.
CP: So is there any rivalry between you and other animal show hosts such as Steve Irwin, a.k.a. the Crocodile Hunter, or Jeff Corwin? How do you differentiate your program from theirs?
Never met 'em. When I started they weren't even born. They have a different approach than I do. I was approached once about collaborating, but I have my hands full with what I do on my own. I've had
Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures
for the past 12 years and now I'm starting a new show called
Jack Hanna's Into the Wild
. It's going to be a more reality-based program with my family. We'll show everything, from getting on the plane to the culture of the location we're in. It'll be very unpredictable.
CP: So finally, as far as conservation, what's your advice to people in the Lowcountry who want to help?
As far as conservation, we all have to do our share. Support your local parks, help out the Audubon society and the Humane Society. The main thing is just to respect the animals.