In his long career, Hanna has worked with all kinds of animals. Don't expect him to choose a favorite to work with, though. When asked that, he began a laundry list that included gorillas, cheetahs, elephants and even insects.
"Insects are fascinating you know? They are really amazing," he said.
Hanna said he and his team do about 100 live animal shows across the country every year. He said the animals enjoy the excitement and love the attention. They are transported from location to location in special vans and trucks designed for that purpose since they are sometimes on the road for many days.
Hanna and his crew will not be in West Virginia long; they arrive early in the morning, set up for a school performance, do the evening show and then pack up and head out for their next show in Virginia. Despite that, Hanna said it is important to him that West Virginia is included on his tours because of the great support the Columbus Zoo receives from the people of this state.
"There is a tremendous turnout," he said. "Tens of thousands come to the zoo every year. We do this to thank them and to show them what is new at the Columbus Zoo this year."
The latest incarnation of Hanna's traveling animal extravaganza, "Jack Hanna's Into the Wild Live," will grace the Clay Center stage at 8 p.m. Friday. Hanna said the audience can expect to see penguins, cheetahs, reptiles and other birds, as well as an assortment of educational clips about things like a baby elephant orphanage and a brand new piece about reptiles.
The show is about an hour and a half and not suitable for children under 3. Hanna warned that the show is a little scary for children so young and that it is necessary for everyone to remain in their seats, which can be difficult for the littlest ones.
Clay Center Eco Party
Prior to Jack Hanna's show, the Clay Center's Eco Party family fun night runs 5 to 7:30 p.m.
For the duration of the event, there's an interactive Earth Fair, where you can learn about going green from a variety of local vendors and the Naturalist Nook, where you can see some of the Clay Center's outdoor finds or bring your own items (no live creatures) to show.
From 5 to 7 p.m., you can meet the Clay Center animals and make crafts out of recycled materials.
All activities are included in gallery admission of $7.50 for adults and $6 for children. Use the discount code "jungle" to get $4 admission per person.
Call 304-561-3570 or visit www.theclaycenter.org.