Since Jack Hanna first appeared on "Late Night with David Letterman" in 1985, he's become one of the most recognizable animal experts in the world. Hanna has appeared on "Good Morning America," Fox News and hosted the syndicated series "Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures" for 12 years.
He has two current television shows, the Emmy-winning "Into the Wild," which first aired in 2008, and "Jack Hanna's Wild Countdown," which debuted this year.
For "Into the Wild," Hanna travels across the globe, taking viewers on animal adventures.
"I travel 260 days in a year," he said during a recent interview.
When he spoke with the Sun-Gazette, Hanna had just returned from a 10-week trip to Zimbabwe and was inbetween meetings at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio, where he is director emeritus. Hanna directed the zoo from 1978 to 1993.
Sometimes he still puts in 16-to-18-hour days there - when he's not globetrotting, that is.
"You can imagine catching up with this place," he said.
Zoo visitors can actually watch him with working production equipment and a television - in a yurt at the zoo.
The day after this interview, Hanna was scheduled to head first to Phoenix, then to Sea World in Orlando, and after that, to New York.
The following week he is going to Rwanda - a place that he said really feels like his second home - and will spend 10 weeks there.
"We have a little house we built in the country, my wife and I," he said. Hanna has been married for 40 years. Him and his wife also have a school for orphans in Rwanda and Hanna said a lot of their friends live there.
Hanna said that even after all these years, he's still inspired by nature.
"Everywhere I go, I appreciate nature," he said.
And he said that being a celebrity hasn't changed him one bit. He's still the same person he was when he grew up in Tennessee.
"I don't like the word celebrity; I don't like the word star to describe who Jack Hanna is," he said.
What it's all about, he said, is educating people about wild animals - while having a little fun, of course.
"My message is it's a fun show, it deals with education in a fun way," he said.
The show at the Community Arts Center, 220 W. Fourth St., which will be held at 7:30 p.m. April 13, will be about conservation.
When Hanna arrives at the CAC, he will sign autographs before the show.
"I will see what the audience is like and I will show a video of my family and I going up into the mountains of Rwanda to the mountain gorillas," he said.
Then he said the show will contain some short video clips - all followed by live animals coming on stage.
The animals that Hanna plans to have for the show include a cheetah, a sloth, a ten-foot python and a bearcat.
"Its real fast and fun, and for ages 4 right on up to 90," he said.
The animals who make their stage appearances are well-trained and are accustomed to the limelight.
"We work with them all the time - they have been worked with for education," he said. "They are the ambassadors to the cousins in the wild."
Hanna has a cast of trainers who help with the animals and have been working with him for years.
"I have fun doing it, you don't get paid anything to do most of these shows and its exposure for the zoos - it's just what we do," Hanna said.