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Adventurer brings message of conservation through fun and excitement

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Jack Hanna explains the natural habitat of the caracal. By Kara Mason.
Renowned wild life expert Jack Hanna entertained students at Hoag Hall Aug. 22 as part of CSU-Pueblo’s distinguished speaker series.

Hanna won over the audience with animals from around the world. While Hanna drew the crowd to Hoag Hall, his cats were crowd favorites.

Known for its tall ears and being depicted in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs, an Egyptian caracal cat won the crowd over. It displayed its natural predatory instinct while pawing at its trainer and on its bright red leash. The cat’s playful appearance belied the fact that when fully grown it can “catch a bird in mid-air. It jumps like a bullet,” said Hanna.

Hanna’s other cats were greeted with just as much enthusiasm. These cats included a snow leopard, a Siberian lynx, a clouded leopard, and a white Bengal tiger. The last cat brought on stage was a one-year-old cheetah. The cheetah drew laughter from the audience as it refused to leave the display table.

Other animals brought on stage received a warm reception as well. One of these animals included a honey badger that garnered laughter in reference to a viral video. Hanna used the crowd’s interest in the honey badger as an opportunity to inform them that this “remarkable” animal “can’t be killed by a king cobra.”

Introduced by Hanna as “David Letterman’s hairpiece,” a two-toed sloth also made an appearance on stage, hanging from the hands of one of Hanna’s assistants. The sloth entertained the crowd as it stared into the camera with what looked like a smile.

A grey kangaroo, an alligator and a Black-footed penguin were also greeted warmly by the crowd.

Hanna’s appearance attracted a variety of people from around Pueblo to Hoag Hall.

“The sloth was my favorite,” said Laura Lundberg, a business student from Pueblo Community College. “The white tiger was the best,” said Asa Salvatore, a senior at Centennial High School.

Even though the animals engaged the crowd, Hanna wasn’t at Hoag Hall strictly for entertainment. Hanna said his message stems from “trying to teach conservation in a fun way.”

Carol Rickman, who has served on the Pueblo Zoo’s board of directors for 20 years, repeated Hanna’s message. Rickman said that the most important part of Hanna’s show was “the message of conservation and what zoos are doing to help endangered species.”

Rickman also said the Pueblo Zoo is helping to spread the message of conservation as well. The zoo’s adopt-a-school program works to get young students interested in animals and know what can be done to help endangered species.

According to Hanna’s website, he got his first job working for his family’s veterinarian where he frequently cleaned animal cages. After finishing college he eventually became the director of the Columbus Zoo in Columbus, Ohio.

Hanna has hosted three different syndicated television shows since 1993: “Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures,” “Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild,” and Jack Hanna’s Wild Count Down, which currently airs on ABC affiliated networks.