By Rick Dandes
The Daily Item
ALLENWOOD — A special visit from world-famous zoologist and TV personality Jack Hanna and a cadre of exotic animals from his home base, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio, brought more than 300 people of all ages to Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland on Monday night.
They came from as far away as Louisiana — a family visiting the area heard about Hanna’s visit and had to see him live — and Bellefonte, South Williamsport and West Milton to see the wildlife expert talk about everything from gorillas to penguins and wildcats. Specimens of the latter two visited Reptiland as well and wowed the crowd of youngsters, who cheered, gasped and oohed whenever an animal was brought on stage.
The highlight of the evening was when a cheetah, a magnificent creature and the fastest animal on earth, took the stage.
Shortly before his talk to the crowd, Hanna said: “It is amazing for me, being raised on a farm in Tennessee, that my audiences range anywhere from 90-year-olds to tots. It’s an incredible demographic, and I sometimes just marvel at it. That’s the thing about those who love animals. There are no age limits. Grandmothers, kids under 5 years old. They watch my shows and love animals.”
Hanna said he visited Allenwood because Clyde Peeling is a good friend of his.
“We met about 12 years ago,” he said. “He’s been to my house in Rwanda. So when he asked me to do a show here, I said sure. I love doing shows like this because you find out what’s on people’s minds about animals, about the environment, and all of that is important to me. And by seeing what is important to them, I can then address those issues on my own shows. I’m not a doom-and-gloom kind of person, and I don’t preach a philosophy, but I do love what I do and I think people realize that.”
Hanna is proud of this generation, whom he said is doing more to help the planet than any other in his lifetime. “I’m 66. My generation, the baby boomers, probably did more to ruin the environment than anyone else,” he said.
He attributes his success to hard work, enthusiasm and having fun. “I educate people, I know that, but I do it in a fun way. I love doing benefits. I love coming to events like this to just talk to everyone about something that has been my life’s work and passion,” Hanna said.