Jungle Jack Hanna has traveled all over the world and appeared on just about every major TV talk show you can think of, and this Sunday he will be in Chandler for a live performance with his exotic animal friends at the Chandler Center for the Arts.
Hanna's show will be 90 minutes long and feature appearances from a wallabee, warthog, sloth, Gila monster, fox, bald eagle, rhinoceros and more. He began doing live theater appearances three years ago, and now does more than 100 theater performances each year.
"I do these live shows to be in touch with people face to face, so that I can get their feedback on the animals and the environment," Hanna said. "When I'm on Letterman or Larry King I'm looking at cameras, not people."
Those who attend Hanna's show at the Chandler Center for the Arts will see video clips of his world travels in addition to live animals.
"In Chandler I'll be using video of my family going to see mountain gorillas in Rwanda, where I have a home, as well as video of a baby bear in New Mexico," Hanna said. "We'll also show bloopers."
Hanna has been educating people about animals through TV since 1983 when he first appeared on "Good Morning America" and has been a wildlife correspondent for the show ever since. He has also hosted his own TV shows, including "Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures" and "Jack Hanna's Into the Wild."
"I decided that I could teach people about animals best by showing them the animals," he said. "I've really lived two dreams. My first was to be a zookeeper, which I did at the Columbus Zoo, and my second was to travel around the world teaching people about animals, which I have also been lucky enough to do."
Making live TV appearances with wild animals for more than 20 years has left Hanna with an unlimited number of funny stories and incidents, but he is sure to let people know his animals are always taken care of by professionals.
"I've been bitten by a beaver on David Letterman's show, and Charlie Gibson was bitten by one of my animals on his first day on 'Good Morning America,' but I have respect for animals with everything I do," Hanna said. "On TV I'm usually the one getting made fun of, which I'm OK with."
Hanna is looking forward to his visit to Phoenix even though his stay will be short because he has a busy travel itinerary in the coming weeks. He sits on the board of Cavco Industries Inc., which is a Phoenix-based business that produces manufactured homes.
"I come to Phoenix four times each year because of Cavco, and I love the area," Hanna said. "I've even hiked across the Grand Canyon before."
Hanna will take the stage at the Chandler Center of the Arts, located at 250 N. Arizona Ave., at 3 p.m. on April 19. Tickets are $28 to $38. For information on the show, visit www.chandlercenter.org or call (480) 782-2680.