Jack Hanna, television personality and Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has been appointed as an honorary director of the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Foundation. Jack’s media appearances have made him one of the most notable animal experts in the United States. Hanna is well-known throughout Montana where he and his wife, Suzi, have a summer home near Big Fork, Montana, on Flathead Lake. Nicknamed “Jungle Jack”, he is is known for his generosity in assisting many different organizations in raising funds for charitable causes.
We met Jack in 2007 when he was our emcee for our Whitefish, Montana, “Conservation Gala.” Since that time Jack and his wife Suzi have become generous supporters of the Foundation’s fundraising events. Jack and Suzi hosted events to raise money for our Grizzly Bear Augmentation Project in 2008 and 2009. In 2011 Jack was our emcee at our very successful Kalispell, Montana, “Grizzly Bear Rendezvous.”
Jack and his family are drawn to Montana where people can still see wildlife that has existed for centuries. Although he notes the Treasure State is changing rapidly, he credits Montana Fish,Wildlife and Parks with “doing a pretty good job of managing” our fish and wildlife resources. He also credits Montana’s hunting culture with creating an animal-sensitive environment. “Many people who object to hunting don’t realize that hunters are some of the best conservationists we have.”
Gary Bertellotti, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Regional Supervisor in the Great Falls Region, has known Jack and his family for a number of years. “Jack loves Montana, its wildlife and all of its natural splendor. He has a unique, spontaneous personality which suits him perfectly for communication with people of all ages,” says Bertellotti. ”Jack will be the perfect Board member because he is a great ambassador for all of Montana.”
“Jack will be a tremendous asset to the Foundation as a resource and a national adviser for our conservation and educational efforts in Montana. Moreover, his national reputation will be invaluable to us in our outreach programs throughout the United States,” noted Montana FWP Foundation Board Chair, Dennis Konopatzke.
Montana FWP Grizzly Bear Biologist, Tim Manley (r), visits with Jack Hanna on location filming “A Grizzly Encounter” near Lake Five, Montana
During the summer of 2010 Jack brought his “Into The Wild with Jack Hanna” producer and film crew to Montana where they filmed our Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Augmentation program entitled, “A Grizzly Encounter.” They also filmed other episodes in Montana, including “Sun River Ranch” with Jack’s good friend Larry Wilson as their host.
Jack Hanna and his film crew on location filming “A Grizzly Encounter” with MFWP’s Tim Manley, Lindsay Stutzman,MFWP Foundation Executive Director, George Bettas and a Lake Five, Montana family whose chickens were breakfast for a grizzly bear
Jack and Suzi Hanna filming the Sun River Ranch episode of ”Into The Wild with Jack Hanna” with Larry Wilson on Larry’s Sun River Ranch
Hanna was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. He grew up on his father’s farm outside Knoxville. 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 graduated in 1969. He was awarded granted honorary doctorates from Muskingum University, Otterbein College and Capital University.
In 1978, Hanna was named director of the Columbus Zoo. His top priority for increasing attendance was by offering educational and entertaining events – a goal that the zoo is still working to achieve today with the addition of a new show called Animals on Safari and the interactive Animal Encounters Village. During his tenuee as the director of the Columbus Zoo, Jack met many leaders in the community who helped raise money to transform the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium into the state-of-the-art park that it is today.
In 1993 Jack became the host of Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures, a nationally syndicated television series. After 10 plus years with Animal Adventures, he decided to start a new TV Series, Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild. This unscripted and action-packed series began airing in October 2007. We truly enjoyed our time with Jack and Suzi during the filming of “A Grizzly Encounter” and “Sun River Ranch” during the summer of 2010.
Jack’s media appearances were taking up so much time that he could no longer manage the day-to-day matters at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, so in 1992, he became the Director Emeritus at the Zoo, a job he still enjoys today. Although he is traveling most days of the year, he still calls Central Ohio home.
Hanna and his wife, Suzi, have three daughters: Kathaleen, Suzanne, and Julie. Jack, Suzi and their family spend much of his time at their home near Bigfork, Montana, where they expect to retire soon.
Jack Hanna photo by Phil Konstantin*Donate to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Foundation