Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown

Ages: 13 - 16Producer: Litton Entertainment

It’s nice to see that legendary animal expert Jack Hanna, 71, is still going strong. A veteran of the TV animal world, Hanna has been getting up close and personal with animals—and sharing that with viewers—for decades. Now his wife, Sue, often accompanies him on trips. (Lucky Sue!)


Wild Countdown show moves quickly to highlight five or six special places, animals or concepts. For example, one episode had a “Beach” theme and Hanna visited the Galapagos Islands, Panama, Fiji, the Channel Islands and Cape Town, South Africa. Hanna marveled at iguanas, watched sea lions and sea turtles, and took part in a “fish drive,” a twice-a-year special communal way of catching fish.

Hanna starts each show from his base camp office at The Columbus Zoo. Usually there’s an animal sitting by his side, nibbling on something or looking right at Hanna. It might be a penguin or a furry creature you don’t quite recognize. Lemur, maybe? It makes for an endearing way to begin.

Before introducing an episode counting down six “Wonders,” he says, “I’ve been lucky enough to visit amazing locations around the world.” And as he visits these places you’ll often hear him say, “Wow, that’s something else!” as he did when seeing a flock of flamingos flying in East Africa. Hanna’s passion for his job is clear.

And Hanna always adds a blooper at the end. They’re more like outtakes than flubs—he can’t quite get on his wet suit before a dive, he gets in a mud fight with his daughter—but they help to make Hanna the likeable guide that has charmed generation after generation of TV viewers. And remember what he says, “Every creature counts!”


Ann Oldenburg ©2018 Parents’ Choice

Ann Oldenburg, lecturer and interim director of the journalism program at Georgetown University, writes about television, food, workplace issues and other pop culture topics. A University of Florida Gator with a degree in journalism, she began her career at The Washington Post and spent more than two decades with USA TODAY. She and her husband have three sons and live in McLean, Virginia.