Jack Hanna (and friends) educate and entertain at the Marcus
Jungle Jack Hanna, of TV fame, brought his live show to Milwaukee.
Jack Hanna and friends — a clouded leopard, echidna, kinkajou (aka honey bear), palm civet, macaw, caracal, serval, fennec fox, african porcupine, sloth, black-footed penguin and, as grand finale, a full-grown cheetah — prowled the stage at Marcus Center Uihlein Hall on Friday (March 8). Hanna, known as the adventurer-host of the Into the Wild and other wildlife-related TV shows over the years, proved popular as a live attraction in Milwaukee. He signed autographs and took pictures with audience members before and after the show and even offered an autograph alternative to those who could not make it through the extensive line.
Hanna did more than entertain. He is a champion wildlife advocate, and his TV and live shows preach preservation of species and habitat. Friday, he praised the Milwaukee County Zoo for its treatment of its animals. Brief videos, each with a special message about certain animals in need, from elephants to disabled pets, punctuated the show. While endangered species and preservation was the primary focus of these videos and his dialogue, environmental subject matter led to other causes and tragedies such as the Rwandan genocide and violent Egyptian conflicts. He shared his sympathies and some background on these topics, but stopped short of details of the tragedies in deference to the many children in the audience.
Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild Live came to a close with one last video of bloopers over the years, turning the jokes back on himself with footage of orangutan kisses and even a giraffe eating his hair.
The evening was like a history-based zoology class in some ways. While the children were certainly excited to see the wildlife, some of the facts were lost on them. But those with the attention span and interest were given a range of information on several endangered and threatened species, and why they have come to that unfortunate status. With so much exposure and so many years in the public eye as a wildlife spokesperson, Jack Hanna had a lot to say about animals and our responsibilities to them. Hanna described his mission thus:
“I am trying to represent the animal world.”