Ask Jack: Jack Hanna Launches New Weekly Column

By Beacon Staff

If there’s one thing I love, it’s a good adventure, and I’m excited to embark on a brand-new adventure with this weekly column. As a resident of Flathead Valley, “Ask Jack” is here for my Montana neighbors, who I know love the outdoors and wildlife as much as I do.

I’ve loved animals since I was a little boy, and that love has only grown stronger throughout my life. I even brought a donkey to college! After a short stint at a zoo in Florida, I went on to become the director of the Columbus Zoo in Columbus, Ohio. In 1983, Good Morning America heard about the birth of the zoo’s twin gorillas and wanted to air a segment live from the zoo; then Letterman came calling, and the rest is history. As an animal ambassador, conservationist, television personality and director emeritus at the Columbus Zoo, I’m always around animals, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My travels have taken me all over the world, on every continent at least two times over. One day I’m in Rwanda hiking up to see the rare mountain gorillas, and the next thing I know I’m showing a baby leopard on The Maury Show or holding a two-toed sloth on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

I first came to Montana in the mid-eighties to help raise money to establish a zoo in Billings. The plane broke down on the way there, so I rented a car and ended up driving through Montana. Looking back, I sure am glad that plane broke down, because I might never have realized how beautiful the Big Sky country is. Going to Montana is like going back in time – you still see the same mountains, lakes and animals that were here 300 years ago. And you can’t beat the trout fishing.

I fell in love with the area and built a cabin in southern Montana. Several years later, after exploring Glacier National Park, the Flathead Valley was calling my name, so I rounded up my family (and the dogs, of course) and built a place in Bigfork. To this day, my wife, Suzi, along with my dogs, Brass and Tasha, and I spend as much time as we can swimming in Flathead Lake and hiking the gorgeous trails.

I’m looking forward to answering your questions about hiking, traveling and wildlife, especially Montana’s amazing creatures, such as bighorn sheep, mountain lions, black bears, grizzly bears, otters and elk. So ask away! Send your questions to [email protected] and I’ll get to work answering what’s on your mind.

See you next time!