Jungle Jack Hanna says, “Touch the mind, teach the heart.”

****I don’t really agree with Jack’s philosophy which is one reason why I wanted to meet him. His passion for animals is real and I admire him for that, but his ardent defense of SeaWorld is something he and I disagree about.***

A couple weeks ago, I was savoring a cup of perfectly brewed French Roast while watching Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer, on Saturday morning television. (As an aside, his ability to connect with dogs seems truly amazing.)

I forgot the TV was on, scrolling through my Facebook feed, when I heard an advertisement about Jungle Jack Hanna coming to the San Diego area. In a sparkle of synchronicity, when I looked up, there was an episode of Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown. You know who he is, right? He’s been around forever on all the late night talk shows. Often with his wife by his side, attired in his khaki uniform, he’s a virtual fountain of animal knowledge.

John Bushnell “Jack” Hanna is an American zookeeper, Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. He was director of the zoo from 1978 to 1992, and is viewed as largely responsible for elevating its quality and reputation. He’s the host of TV’sEmmy award winning Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild and Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown.

We have a bit of a difference of opinion about Seaworld and zoos in general, and while he concedes that certain things about Blackfish were a real portrayal of what happened with the whales, he’s a staunch and passionate supporter of their rescue skills and education programs.

Some of the conversation I jotted down as we were talking, with his approval:

He is involved as a person who supported Seaworld since the beginning.
Blackfish is trash.
Very big proponent of Seaworld’s conservation efforts.
Manatees were going extinct –and Seaworld saved them.
Disappointed with people who hate Seaworld.

He asked me a rhetorical (in my opinion) question, ‘How do we learn about the animals?”
He doesn’t agree with anything that might harm the animal.

He made a point I have to agree with. There are no real completely wild places left in this world. When he’s filming, his guidelines are to respect the animals, don’t teach them to do anything unnatural. Back off, or don’t interfere or interrupt the kill.

I know that he works with the critically endangered mountain gorillas in Rwanda and they hold a special place in his heart. I was recently at the zoo in Seattle and took my grandson to see the gorillas (a favorite animal), and it was heartbreaking to see them. They looked completely depressed to me, and desperately need their habitat improved. There were blankets strewn about on the dirt ground and it looked as sad as a homeless encampment.

I had plans to ask him more questions, but there wasn’t time as he had to prepare for his flight to San Diego.

Here are the topics I didn’t get to broach with him:
What do you think about the current admin’s decision to reduce the size of our national parks?
*Ditto: Killing of hibernating bears
*Ditto: Drilling for oil
*Ditto: Delisting wolves

The show started at 6pm and I made sure I was there in plenty of time to get a little backstage time, if possible. I was pleasantly surprised that it was a packed house with so many people interested in learning about animals.

Jack was very hospitable- a complete gentleman- and made time to take a selfie with me:


Unfortunately, something went wrong with my Canon Rebel T3i , so all I have are the pics I took with my iPhone.


***These were all rescued animals, none were taken from their native habitat.***


It was pretty funny when the kangaroo got to run around the room but it happened so fast, I didn’t get any video.

While we don’t completely agree on several issues, I have mad respect for Jungle Jack Hanna’s passion for wildlife conservation, as well as his very obvious love for his wife of 47 years, his children and grandchildren.









“From One Kid To Another: Bindi Irwin Should Oppose SeaWorld”

A note from Princess Rosebud of Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife:

This letter needs to go viral and author Rose McCoy, twelve-year-old animal activist, needs to be honored.

I wish more of her generation was as passionate and compassionate toward the defense and welfare of animals. 

I am so proud of you. You go, girl!

From Rose McCoy…

Bindi Irwin is only a few years older than I am, but we are worlds apart on our views about cramming orcas and dolphins into SeaWorld’s floating prison cells. I went to jail after jumping in front of SeaWorld’s Rose Parade float to protest the amusement park’s cruelty to orcas and dolphins. Bindi jumped at the chance to be SeaWorld’s new “ambassador” because, well, I’m not sure why.

As someone who lost a parent at a young age, Bindi seems like the last person who would be a spokesperson for SeaWorld, knowing that it has taken baby orcas away from their loving moms, leaving them thrashing and wailing with grief. Wild orcas never permanently leave their moms and pods. Please, Bindi, you should know how awful it is for SeaWorld to separate mothers and children, which it does all the time.

Orcas and dolphins in the wild have the whole ocean to swim in, and they have dozens of friends and family members who love them. They are super-smart animals who work together as a team, talk to each other using special dialects, and swim for many, many miles every day, enjoying the currents and the sights of the sea. At SeaWorld, all of this is taken away. Their world is shrunk from square miles to square feet.

Intelligent orcas with individual personalities are reduced to cartoon “Shamus.” And how many audience members realize that every single orca performer, male or female, in SeaWorld’s parks is called “Shamu”?!

Swimming in circles in SeaWorld’s fish bowls makes orcas and dolphins crazed, frustrated, and angry. Who wouldn’t feel the same way if they were kidnapped, imprisoned in a tiny tank, and forced to perform silly tricks on command?

There is nothing that SeaWorld can do and no one it can hire who can erase the truth that those of us who saw “Blackfish” know. Customers are running away from SeaWorld! Ticket sales are down, musicians are canceling shows, and schools are canceling field trips. SeaWorld can never make up for the lives it has destroyed. The only thing that it can do now is stop hurting more animals and release the orcas it has to coastal sanctuaries.

Recently, California state lawmaker Richard Bloom introduced a bill that would force SeaWorld to do the right thing by making it illegal for SeaWorld San Diego to hold orcas in captivity. I wish I lived in California, because I would like to walk right up to Mr. Bloom and give him a big hug.

It makes me sad that instead of working to free orcas — to have them live in the great oceans again — Bindi Irwin is using her name to help keep them in small, barren tanks. We don’t want to see orcas and dolphins turned into circus clowns. Animals are so much better than that. We should be, too.


We’re witnessing a profound shift in the way people regard animals. They matter more to us now. We think of them less as objects at our disposal, as science increasingly reveals them to be intelligent, emotional, social beings that are not as different from us as we used to think they were. We’re increasingly committed to learning about them, more interested in understanding and improving our relationships with them, and more passionate about protecting them. The Dodo will channel this shift every day by covering the most important and fascinating stories including photos, videos, Vines, etc. And we want you to join us: Share your stories, your pictures, your media, anything animal-related, and you’ll be part of an unprecedented community for all those who love animals, are concerned about their welfare — and want to make a difference.


We’re resurrecting the dodo — a mysterious bird we drove into extinction nearly 400 years ago — to remind us of just how great our impact on animals is, and to inspire us to get it right this time.


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