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Zoo Life with Jack Hanna - A Series to Remember

Discussion in 'TV, Movies, Books about Zoos & Wildlife' started by Baldur, 10 Jul 2010.

  1. Baldur

    Baldur Well-Known Member

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    I just finished watching two full tapes of Zoo Life with Jack Hanna, which I recorded in 2000 during their re-run on Animal Planet; this series was produced in the early 1990s and lasted for about 40 episodes. I even found an episode guide online:

    ZooLife With Jack Hanna - TV Show, Episode Guide & Schedule

    In his new book 'Jungle Jack: My Wild Life' Hanna briefly mentions the series (p. 176):

    "I had done features for local stations, like the first one on Anna Merz, and even the local series, Hanna's Ark. But when I was approached to do a nationally-syndicated show, Zoo Life, I thought, "Hey, this stuff could get series." Zoo Life was the real deal. But after we had taped about forty episodes, financial problems arouse, and that deal soon ended."

    Zoo Life has not been put on DVD and probably never will due to their age (his newer series are on DVD though: Animal Adventures and Into the Wild) although they went on video at the time, which can be bought second-hand on Amazon and eBay.

    Zoo Life was special in that the host was a professional zoo man making visits to zoos around the USA and the world to introduce zoo animals, zoo people and zoo exhibits to viewers. Jack Hanna is an amazing man and my first idol in the zoo world. Not only is he a great speaker who can reach the audience with his conservation message; he was also a professional zoo person at the time (i.e. not an actor or an entertainer) and since he left Columbus Zoo he has always been there for zoos at hard times, for instance after the San Francisco tiger attack and after the trainer was killed at SeaWorld this year. On a personal note, it was through his show that I heard of many of America's best zoos for the first time.

    Most zoo-based TV series are not the same because they are filmed in one or at most two zoos; and feature even the smallest things in the daily operation. I have seen scenes where the garbage cleaners were followed around and the lawns were being mown. I no longer have cable (waste of money and time) but I remember series like Aspinall's Animals (Howletts and Port Lympne), Zoo Story and Zoo Chronicles (London and Whipsnade) as well as ones about Longleat, Paignton, San Diego Wild Animal Park, etc. While the producers are usually careful not to bore viewers too much with such scenes (low ratings can mean unemployment) even more interesting features have been taken too far at times. Zoo Story for instance managed to extend a dental operation on a Sulawesi Black Macaque into two or three episodes. It was then that I stopped watching the series, and soon after I cancelled the cable.

    Do you know of any other series, from any time in any country, built up like Zoo Life? I.e. the host (a pro zoo person or an actor) going between zoos (in one country or many countries) instead of just staying at one zoo. And if you know of any series, my next question would be if they are available on DVD for online purchase? Maybe a long shot but you never know unless you have a go! :D
     
  2. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Well-Known Member

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    There was also a magazine called ZooLife. Not exactly a companion to the television series per se, but may have been produced by the same organization. I know Jack Hanna was mentioned a lot. It too got cancelled, as I well know, because I had a subscription and they stopped coming. Unfortunately, I did not save any.

    I did, however, save all four issues (all that were ever produced) of Endangered Species. This was a general zoo magazine distributed worldwide but published in Australia. Its focus as I remember was the connection between zoos and field conservation projects. It ran from 1999 to 2000 before going under. Although I never look at them, I do have them on my bookshelf as a collector's item. Plan on keeping them there, unless of course some ZooChatter offers me a huge sum of money ;).
     
  3. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    not quite like Zoo Life (which I remember as well), but in the early 80s there was a BBC TV series called Zoo 2000 hosted by Jeremy Cherfas, for which there is an accompanying book of the same name (published 1984). The series examined the history of zoological gardens and how they are progressing, travelling the world to showcase many different facilities, and discusses what zoos may look like in the far future of the year 2000. It was very good. Not sure if its available anywhere though.
     
  4. Baldur

    Baldur Well-Known Member

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    Zoo 2000 is a wonderful example! I have the book but never seen even a bit of one show. Possibly the series is collecting dust on a tape in some Zoochatter's home and will be gone when the tape gets ruined. It would be great if users would have a look at what they've recorded over the years and see if the tapes could be put over to digital format or DVD.
     
  5. zoomaniac

    zoomaniac Well-Known Member

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    Well, there are and were some compareable TV-series in the german-speaking countries.

    First of all: "Elefant, Tiger & Co." (Dokusoap from Leipzig Zoo, produced by MDR, first Episode first of april, 2003) and his fellows from other Zoos ("Panda, Gorilla & Co." from Zoo and Tierpark Berlin, "Giraffe, Erdmaennchen & Co." from Zoo Frankfurt and Opelzoo Kronberg a.s.o.). All still runing on different regional tv-stations of the ARD. Runing time about 50 minutes.


    Then the best: "Abenteuer Zoo" produced by MDR (which belongs to the ARD) within the 1990ies and 2000. Generally, each episode shows the work, the animal specialities and the landscape/constructions and sometimes with coments of the director of a specific Zoo in the World (there are a few exeptions: e.g. Seaworld San Diego, Wild Animal Park and San Diego Zoo are "squeezed" in one episode). Episode runing time: about 45 minutes.
    You can get them via amazon, directly over MDR-Homepage and sometimes in bigger Book/DVD-stores. I, personally, collect those DVDs. They are great.

    Also there were - if I remember correctly - a few episodes in the "Universum"-Series from ORF (Austria) and BBC, that had "zoostuff", mostly about the Tiergarten Schoenbrunn in Vienna and so mostly with the former Director Helmut Pechlaner in the role of the speaker.
    Produced from about End of the 80s till now. Don't know, where you can get them.

    There were also Series in the late 60ies, 70ies and 80ies like "Zoos der Welt - Welt der Zoos" (which was probably produced from a TV-company in a non-german-speaking country, but was translated) and "Zoogeschichten" (produced by one of the public german TV-companys with stories from different german zoos only). I wish somebody could tell me, where I can get those episodes for myself.

    So all in all, a lot of zoostuff. The only problem could be: As far as I know, they are all only in german. But, dear zoochat-fellows from english-speaking countries, you are vey well known for learning other languages, aren't you?...:)
     
  6. Rookeyper

    Rookeyper Well-Known Member

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    Jack Hanna filmed several spots for that show here in Fort Wayne many years ago. I seem to recall them being here for almost a week and filming all over the zoo. I know in my area they filmed Tasmanian devils, Rainbow lorikeets, fish, and a kangaroo joey I was raising. He was pretty good to work with and always wanted to get the facts right.
    A TV station in Indianapolis also did a regional show that was filmed in numerous midwest zoos. I think it was either the ABAC or NBC affiliate but was based at the Indy zoo.
     
  7. kbaker116

    kbaker116 Well-Known Member

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    I'm suprised nobody has mentioned Mutual of Ohama's Wild Kingdom with Marlin Perkins. You can actually watch many of the older shows on You Tube many of them are full episodes too.

    YouTube - WildKingdomTV's Channel
     
  8. Baldur

    Baldur Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for this information. I understand the complete MOWK is on DVD now as well. I'll be in the States from tomorrow onwards and will look for it and buy if it is not too expensive.

    Perkins had bonds with several American zoos (St. Louis, Buffalo, Lincoln Park, and others?) and I think Fowler did too (although I'm not sure which zoos). I'm not American and in addition too young to have grown up with MOWK (Perkins died in 1986, when I was 5) but a TV station in Iceland did show some old seasons sometime in the late 1980s (around the same time they showed 'Zoo Life' so much to thank them for) and I fondly recall sitting in front of the telly; watching a show about a mother puma raising her cubs in the wilds of Utah (I think it was filmed in Utah) and another show where someone (think it was Fowler) caught a nuisance black bear (probably in Yellowstone) using a net gun and moved it to a different location.
     
  9. kbaker116

    kbaker116 Well-Known Member

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    Good luck in finding it. I sure hope Zoo Life will one day come out on DVD. I sure do like watching the older shows. Both series aired before I was born but I sure wish I was alive when they were on.
     
  10. CritterBlog

    CritterBlog Well-Known Member

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    Jack Hanna needs to retire. It is time for new blood.
     
  11. kbaker116

    kbaker116 Well-Known Member

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    Do you have anyone in mind? I personally like him, I can't really imagine anyone else competing with him.
     
  12. Baldur

    Baldur Well-Known Member

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    There's a lot of new blood around (you see it if you watch Jay Leno and the like every now and then) but nothing compares to Jack. He's got this amazing way of reaching the audience and keeping them entertained and educated at the same time.

    Jack is 63 now and has been touring the world filming for around 30 years and he wants to retire soon to his Montana home (I just read his recently published book). I'm not American so I don't get as much of him as you do over there but I hope that he'll give us 7-10 more years before he actually retires.
     
  13. ANyhuis

    ANyhuis Well-Known Member

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    No way! Jack is great. I've met him a few times and he's as nice (and funny) in person as he is on camera. No one is a better spokesman for zoos than Jungle Jack. That's one reason the LA Zoo had him speak for them during their city trial over Pachyderm Forest, and that's why Jack is usually first on the media to defend zoos when something goes wrong (San Francisco tiger tragedy, Sea World killer whale tragedy).

    As for this topic, I saw every single one of those old ZooLife shows and I still have all of the ZooLife magazines. Of course I grew up watching Marlin Perkins in Wild Kingdom.
     
  14. Baldur

    Baldur Well-Known Member

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    Allen, I'm glad to have a fellow Jack Hanna fan in you. Jack is great and when he talks on the shows, I listen. I read his 1980s autobiography and his 2008 revised edition and seem to remember him saying that the only college thing he got a distinction in was speech!

    Sadly I haven't had a chance to meet him but I've always thought he was like a perfect balance between the calm and scientific David Attenborough and the late hyperactive Steve Irwin.
     
  15. pgioe

    pgioe New Member

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    Jack Hanna in Langtang village

    I started trying to post about our filming one of the last episodes of ZooLife with Jack Hanna, moments ago, but my post disappeared on me before I completed it, and I don't have the energy to start again from the beginning.

    Langtang village was destroyed today, ht the quake in Nepal. We did a good show from there. And it was nice to find some kind words written here about our old series.

    If anyone is still interested, I'll post again about the series. I still have some, but not all, of the episodes.

    Thanks, phillip
     
  16. JVM

    JVM Well-Known Member

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    I remember watching this series as a child on two VHS tapes, but I had no idea the extent of the series up to finding this thread. The tapes involved a habitat for golden lion tamarins and storks in Europe, an elephant habitat, and a Marineland attraction, I believe? Makes me want to dig them out and watch them again for old time's sake.
     
  17. Nisha

    Nisha Well-Known Member

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    For anyone still interested - Amazon.com (not the UK site) have a number of the VHS tapes available currently (2nd hand)