Animal whisperer Jack Hanna brings a few of his favorite two-legged, four-legged…and no-legged…co-stars to the valley Friday to educate and entertain 1,400 of his closest friends – most of whom have never met Jungle Jack. Such is the charisma, personability and sheer animal magnetism of America’s most beloved animal expert. Hanna brings his three-time Emmy Award-winning television series to Tucson’s Fox Theatre on Jan. 7 at 6:30 p.m. and Phoenix’ Orpheum Theatre on Jan. 8, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. with Into the Wild Live!
Hanna was kind enough to chat with about his legendary career and the show as he prepared for the Arizona gigs. When you consider that the beast master spends hours each week personally signing books and videos for young, old and everyone in between, it’s a wonder he has time to do any shows.
But as Hanna confessed, he wouldn’t have it any other way. “You never forget how you got to be who you are,” he shared. “And you never forget how blessed you are. I love to bring my show to people, especially people in Tucson and Phoenix.”
It’s been a long and winding road to the Orpheum for Hanna, beginning with his first paid gig at age 11 working for the family veterinarian cleaning cages. Going on to become the Director of the Columbus Zoo, Hanna became a household name in 1983 when he appeared on Good Morning America following the birth of baby twin gorillas at the zoo. And from there it was off to the cheetah races.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more passionate and knowledgeable advocate for America’s zoological parks than the now Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo. “Last year, 176 million people went to ‘em. It’s the largest recreation (activity) in America, not football, not NASCAR.”
That certainly goes a long way towards explaining the popularity of Hanna’s shows. “Ninety percent of people can’t go where I go. I wish they all could. So we want them to learn about the animal world. Education is the number one priority. A lot of people say conservation. Yes, it’s important. But you cannot have conservation without education.”
The wildly popular wildlife correspondent dropped by many American living rooms when he appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman for the first time in 1985, hitting it off famously with the quirky host. Since then he’s been a regular guest on The Late Show and has appeared with furry and scaly friends on Larry King Live, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Hollywood Squares, The Maury Show, Entertainment Tonight, FOX News and countless others.
Hanna launched his first pet project and television series in 2007, the three-time Emmy Award-winning Into the Wild. In the live version of the show, Jungle Jack takes audiences into the wild with a spectacular array of incredible animals. Hanna also shares humorous stories and amazing footage from his adventures around the world – from Africa, to the Amazon, to Antarctica and beyond.
Audiences can expect to see around 15 animals in the live experience. Though the specific furry guests remain a mystery until shortly before the show – since each animal must receive medical clearance – fans will be treated to animals such as a baby cheetah, kangaroo, baby tiger, two-toed sloth, penguin and much more.
And don’t be surprised if you come away from the show sharing Hanna’s passion and dedication to wildlife conservation. As the creature crafter insightfully pointed out, “The zoo should be a place where people learn while having fun.” Amen brother.
You can get tickets to the Orpheum show here and the for the Fox show here.