Jack Hanna

Celebrating 40 years at the Columbus Zoo

In his khaki outfit and safari hat, Jack Hanna stands out wherever he goes. He's often surrounded by adoring fans, and if he could he'd talk to each one of them.

Hanna became director of the Columbus Zoo in 1978, and many credit him with revitalizing the zoo and putting it — and Columbus — in the national spotlight. But it's not just his work at the zoo that earned him fame.

He took the animals to the people, whether it be in a classroom or on the set of "The Late Show With David Letterman." Forty years after arriving in Columbus, Hanna has influenced the zoo community and the public's commitment to wildlife conservation with his folksy, larger-than-life persona.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium now is home to more than 10,000 animals, spans 588 acres and attracted 2.3 million visitors last year. As for Hanna, he says he remains committed to supporting the zoo and the city that has given his family so much support.