Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I Heart Jack Hanna

I've been writing my fingers to the bone lately -- just not on this blog. I'm feeling guilty because I had a spectacular trip to San Antonio -- lots of highlights -- and I've been too swamped to post. So here's a quick one about one of my favorite moments -- meeting Jack Hanna.

You probably know he's the Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo, the modern incarnation of Marlin Perkins and better looking than Jim. (For those of you not old enough, Marlin Perkins started a TV show -- back in the days of black and white -- called Zoo Parade, which was filmed at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. Perkins is primarily associated with the St. Louis Zoo where he was director until his retirement. It was during this time that he became starred in the Mutual of Omaha show Wild Kingdom -- where he usually got his assistant Jim to do the dirtier jobs like wrangling giant snakes.)

Back to Jack. He was making an appearance at Sea World and we (the travel writers) got to go back stage and meet him. He's not hyper -- like he usually seems on David Letterman's show -- but poised and professional, also relaxed and oh-so-gracious. He made my heart go pitter-pat and I think I might have declared undying love. He neither gagged nor laughed but was totally charming.

Also garnering a lot of attention in the dressing room were two five-month-old cheetahs, Bella and Jacob. They were stretching their legs and chasing one another around the room but we did get to pet them. Their traveling companion is a dog -- who was in his crate during our visit.

Jack Hanna was a delight; Sea World was awesome; and I loved the Shamu show. What a great afternoon!