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Furry friends invade Sun Dome Monday

The University Lecture Series (ULS) continued its Fall panel with last night’s presentation of “An Evening with Jack Hanna and His Furry Friends,” in the Sun Dome Corral.

As host of the popular show Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures and regular guest on such shows as Good Morning America and The Late Show with David Letterman, Hanna has built a reputation of being “every person’s” zoologist. It is perhaps this humble appeal that filled the Corral with both young and old, students and tagalongs, all looking to catch a glimpse of his wild creatures.

Although Hanna brought clips of his favorite videos and nearly 40 years’ worth of his wildlife knowledge, the animals were from Busch Gardens, Sea World and Lowry Park Zoo.

With animals ranging from a red rough lemur to an African spurback tortoise, they all had one thing in common – a spot on the endangered species list. Setting the thrills aside, Hanna made it clear why his mission is important.

“We are here for one purpose, and that is education,” Hanna said. “We want to educate all of you about what is happening in our world today and what is happening to the animals and how we can all help.”

Mixed in with his dazzling animal facts, Hanna presented an underlying message of a more serious note.

“Believe it or not, on the black market this bird sells for around $25,000,” Hanna said while describing the macaw on stage next to him. “The second largest smuggling we have in the world today is the smuggling of exotic birds and parrots.”

According to Hanna, the brightly colored birds are hunted and captured for their feathers, which are used on clothing or other types of apparel.

As a conservationist and animal activist, Hanna still noted the importance that hunters play in the environment.

“We are very lucky to have good hunters in this country and throughout the world,” Hanna said. “Our predator/prey relationship is all messed up, but we do have to have control over certain animals to preserve the environment.”

From his humble start in Knoxville, Tennessee, Hanna has seen the world in ways that many only dream. His new series, Jack Hanna, Into the Wild, begins Oct. 1 on Animal Planet, and he hopes to continue his life’s work for years

to come.

A self-proclaimed believer in the American dream, Hanna had these simple words of advice to the audience: “Hard work and enthusiasm – if you have those, you will succeed.”